Medical Monday Heart Health Part 1, Heart Attacks

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 1:45 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - February is American Heart Month. Doctors are encouraging people to focus on their cardiovascular health. In part one of a two series on heart health we look at the different types of heart attacks and some warning signs to be looking for.

Dr. Rodolfo Aldir, the Medical Director of Cardiology Services at AR Gould Hospital says, “What we’re talking about is coronary artery disease and that is where we talk about blockages and cholesterol build up inside of arteries.”

Dr. Aldir says there are different types of heart attacks. He says, “When you’re having a heart attack, essentially there is a part of the heart that is not getting oxygen, so it’s essentially dying. Different areas amass certain amount of tissue and because of that, that’s why we say we might have a safer area. The front artery, which is the interior descending artery, that is the artery where individuals use a term called the widow maker. The reason being is, if there is a blockage very high up on that artery, a greater amount of tissue is effected. So, that tends to lead to a higher risk of dying from a heart attack.”

Dr. Aldir says many factors that can contribute to a heart attack. “Smoking, whether it’s cigars, or cigarettes or cannabis does play a role in how it becomes a risk factor for developing blockages in arteries. High cholesterol itself is a cardiovascular risk factor, so individuals with high cholesterol and in particular high bad cholesterol.”

Aldir adds that family history and genetics also plays a role. Dr. Thomas Buckingham, a staff cardiologist at AR Gould hospital, says there are several symptoms to watch. He says, “The most important thing is if they start getting chest pain and if it’s severe chest pain, they of course, should come in right away to the emergency department. Some people instead of getting chest pain they get pain in the jaw or sometimes in the arm or the shoulder.”

Aldir adds, “They can be symptoms associated with neck discomfort, back, shoulder, a little different location as to the location. So in women the symptoms are not as classically described.”

Both say it’s important to take steps to keep your heart as healthy as possible.

“You have to sort of be aware of your own family history. If anyone had heart disease at a young age, in their 50′s that would be a risk factor. If you’re a smoker you should quit, better yet, never start smoking. If you have high blood pressure get it treated. It is also partly what you eat, the kind of diet you eat.” according to Buckingham.

Both encourage exercise and getting enough sleep as well to help keep your heart healthy.

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