Heart attack symptoms can differ by gender
For February, American Heart Month, awareness of these measures can save lives.
Symptoms of a heart attack, according to Avendano, are chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, passing out and sweating -- although he said these symptoms may not be typical in women. Women may experience breathing problems, pain or pressure in the upper stomach or lower chest area, a dizzy feeling, severe fatigue or upper back pain or pressure, says the American Heart Association.
“The best way to prevent heart attacks and strokes is keeping the blood pressure under control, keeping the cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter, daily exercise for half an hour, keeping glucose below 100 milligrams per deciliter and following a healthy diet,” he said. “If a person has diabetes mellitus, hypertension (high blood pressure) and or high cholesterol, a baby aspirin every day is very helpful.”
High cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, is something that can be picked up at a yearly physical. Avendano said half of the cholesterol in the blood is produced in the liver and is genetically determined. The other half is absorbed from the diet, so some patients require medications to reduce the production by the liver.
“All of the patients need to follow a low cholesterol diet to reduce the blood levels,” Avendano said. “The recommendation from the American Heart Association is to ingest less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day. The best approach is to look at the labels and decide what is the best food for each person.”
“The best way to stay healthy is by a combination of diet and exercise,” he said. “Obesity leads to hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus. Counting calories is very important for weight reduction, but daily aerobic exercise is necessary to achieve an ideal weight.”
Often, he said, there are no symptoms associated with high blood pressure, which makes healthy life choices that much more important
Avendano, who completed medical school in Guatemala in 1986, has been practicing in Houston since 1996. He completed his internal medicine residency at Baylor College of Medicine and his interventional cardiology fellowship at the Texas Heart Institute.
For those interested in learning more about heart health, Avendano recommends WebMD (www.webmd.com), the American Heart Association (www.heart.org) and the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com/health-information). His favorite iPhone and iPad apps include the Cholesterol Manager, My Fitness Pal and the Pocket Dietitian.
NAME: Amilcar Avendano, M.D.
OCCUPATION: Interventional cardiologist
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Practices at Memorial Hermann Medical Group in The Woodlands
FAST FACT: He enjoys camping with his son’s Boy Scout troop.
Mark DeHaven is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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