February is American Heart Month, a month to spread awareness about the importance of heart health. In honor of this, La Salle County Health Department is encouraging people to show their support by wearing red on Fridays throughout the month, according to a news release.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in Illinois and the United States. While heart disease has traditionally been considered a “man’s disease,”’ 1 in 3 women dies of heart disease each year. Women also are more likely than men to exhibit the following signs of heart attack: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or back and jaw pain.
Heart attacks are life-and-death emergencies in which every second counts, the health department said in a news release, so county health officials encourage people to know the risks. Factors that may increase chances of getting heart disease include:
• High blood cholesterol: Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty and dying of heart disease. Exercising, eating a healthy diet and not smoking will help prevent high cholesterol and reduce your levels.
• High blood pressure.
• Being overweight.
• Family history of early heart disease.
• Age (55 or older for women).
• Being physically inactive.
Some steps a person can take to decrease risks of heart disease is to "know your numbers" when it comes to cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, controlling weight, being physical active and decreasing stress level can have added benefits.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not wait before calling for help. The health department recommends calling 911 and getting to the hospital right away.
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Shortness of breath.
• Breaking out in a cold sweat.
• Sudden dizziness or lightheadedness.
• Unusual upper body pain (arms, back, jaw).
• Skipped heartbeats.
• Unusual or unexplained fatigue.
For more information about heart disease, contact the La Salle County Health Department at 815-433-3366 or visit lasallecounty.org.