Look, I hate to ruin the part this season, but there’s something I need to tell you: heart attack risk goes up in the winter. Ten percent more people die from a heart attack or stroke in the winter than summer, and the demands of the holidays make this a high-risk time of year.
The bad news does not stop there. A new study suggests that one in five Americans can’t name the symptoms of a heart attack, making it highly unlikely they will respond in time, or at all, if one does occur.
Heart attacks don’t necessarily look like they do on television. Sometimes you can have a small one and not even notice. You might sit down for a sec before going back about your business. But then a few weeks or months later, boom! It’s a big one.
Before we keep going, let’s take a look at the five major symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort (a very pressurized, constrictive feeling; like there is an elephant jammed in your chest).
- Shortness of breath (real difficulty breathing, like you’ve ran a marathon without getting out of your chair; might not even be able to talk).
- Pain or discomfort on the arms or shoulders.
- Feeling weak, lightheaded, faint, or experiencing a cold sweat (like standing up or moving is a challenge or that a gust of wind could knock you over; like you need to sit down).
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or back (like when you have the flu).
If you’ve felt any of these symptoms in the past few months, seeing the doctor is recommended. Further, if you have risk factors like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or are overweight, awareness is essential. Knowing the signs can result in fast reaction that has the potential to save your life.
So, this season when you step out to shovel the driveway or get some quiet time away from the family inside, be aware not only of the heart attack risk, but of the signs. It’s the only way to come out on top when the season can be stacked against you.