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Heart Attack Risks, Symptoms and Prevention

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Haughton Football Coach Rodney Guin’s recent heart attack, and miraculous recovery, has brought renewed attention to heart attack risks and symptoms – and what people can do to keep their hearts healthy.

Dr. Rodney Reeves is a cardiologist at Willis Knighton. He told KEEL News you see a high-profile case like Guin’s and think about what could have been the symptoms that led up to his heart attack. And the family wonders if anything could have been done to prevent it. Dr. Reeves said most people will experience some kind of symptoms.

“Chest pain, chest pressure, difficulty breathing, changes in their exertional capacity,” he said. “Maybe they could walk a mile or two in the morning, no problems, and then they find themselves quarter-of-a-mile, half-mile into it having to stop, catch their breath.”

But for some people, a heart attack is the first sign there’s a problem. How do you know when it’s time to see the doc?

“Any sort of chest pressure, chest discomfort, an uneasiness or a difficulty breathing that persists more than five to 10 minutes that’s not easing up with just rest alone, that’s something you’re going to need to see somebody,” Dr. Reeves said. “Typically, that would mean the emergency room.”

Dr. Reeves said you need to check your family’s medical history to see if you’re at risk for heart disease. Identifying the problem early decreases your chances of having a heart attack.

Listen to more with Dr. Rodney Reeves:

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So what can we do to keep our hearts healthy? Kedgy Larson, owner of Fitness Lady on Old Minden Road, tells us the key is to get up and move.

“Prevention is the biggest key. There are five risk factors for heart disease. We are in control of four. Genetics is the one we can’t control,” she said. “We can stop smoking, we can stop fat foods, we can watch our blood pressure, we can watch the foods that we eat — the salt intake — stress levels.”

Larson said she’s seeing a lot of people whose stress levels are high, and sleep intake is low — and that’s a heart attack waiting to happen.

“When you have stress, which we all do, we have what’s known as the little fire alarm that goes off and says, ‘Change your battery, you’ve got a problem,’ – fight or flight,” she said.

So we decide to deal with one thing at a time, and the stress levels come down and everything’s quiet. But when we let the stress overcome us, it leads to much bigger issues.

“This kind of stress becomes chronic,” Larson said. “It actually starts physiologically affecting your body. You start to have palpitations, you don’t rest well at night, sometimes you can break out. And then if you let it go even beyond that, the immune system so breaks down that now you’re talking about chronic diseases.” That could be anything from Lupus to reproductive issues, or heart attack and stroke.

So how much does one need to move to keep the heart healthy? Larson says believe it or not, just 30 minutes five days a week.

Here’s the complete interview with Kedgy Larson:

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