Preventing Heart Attacks by Understanding Cardiovascular Risks

Do you know that heart attacks have "beginnings" that can occur days or weeks before an actual attack? It is important to recognize these beginnings, with the help of an EHAC doctor, to help prevent the actual attack and its potential health consequences. People often mistake the early warning signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain, for heartburn or pulled a muscle. The unfortunate outcome is that many people wait too long before getting help.

At The Hospitals of Providence, we have an EHAC program delivered by a team of cardiologists, nurses and staff who are dedicated to helping men and women recognize the early warning signs of a heart attack. We provide care and treatment options for these signs and help prevent the emergency from happening.

What Is a Heart Attack?

Each year, approximately 1.2 million Americans suffer a heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction. It is a medical emergency that occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. This usually happens when fatty deposits build up over time and form plaque in the heart's arteries, blocking the blood flow. The blockage also limits the oxygen and nutrients that go to your heart.

Heart attacks are sometimes thought to be a man’s problem. But the truth is, more women in the United States die of heart disease each year than men. In general, over 80,000 people die every year from a heart attack and on average, 50% of these patients displayed, but ignored, the warning signs.

What Are the Early Signs of a Heart Attack?

There are heart attack symptoms in women that are different from heart attack symptoms in men. But the common signs and symptoms they usually share are as follows:

  • Chest pain or discomfort: The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or it may go away and come back. The discomfort may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain at the center of the chest.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in the back, jaw, stomach or in one or both arms.
  • Shortness of breath: This may occur with, before or without chest pain or discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea or light-headedness

Meanwhile, heart attack symptoms in women sometimes go unnoticed. These include the following:

  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of the chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder or jaw
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Unusual shortness of breath
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort
  • Vomiting

If you experience these early warning signs of a heart attack, please do not delay care. Schedule an appointment with your cardiologist at The Hospitals of Providence as soon as possible. Treatments are usually most effective when they occur in the early stages of chest pain, so early treatment is key. In case of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and seek medical care immediately.

What Are the Risk Factors of a Heart Attack?

Some of the things or conditions that may increase your risk for myocardial infarction may include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Old age
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Too much stress
  • Unhealthy diet

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

Aside from working closely with your EHAC doctor and watching out for early warning signs of a heart attack, making some lifestyle changes can also help prevent a heart attack from happening. These lifestyle changes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Being physically active
  • Eating and drinking healthy
  • Limiting alcohol intake or not drinking at all
  • Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight
  • Lowering high blood pressure (if necessary)
  • Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing and managing stress
  • Treating or managing conditions that can be a risk factors of heart attack such as diabetes

Why Choose The Hospitals of Providence for Your Early Heart Attack Care?

The Hospitals of Providence has EHAC teams who genuinely care about you and your loved ones. Our hospitals are located across El Paso to provide accessible care to the communities in this city and nearby areas. At the same time, we have received multiple recognitions for the compassionate care and patient-centered cardiovascular services we offer.

Some of the accreditations and recognitions we received in recent years are as follows:

For Sierra Campus

  • Chest Pain Reaccreditation by the Society of Cardiovascular Care
  • ACC HeartCARE Center Designation by the American College of Cardiology
  • Grade A rating for patient safety in the Leapfrog Group’s Fall 2019 Safety Score

Take the EHAC Oath with us.

We encourage you to start taking care of your heart health today. We can kick this commitment off by taking the EHAC oath together.

“I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack. I solemnly swear that if happens to me or anyone I know I will call 9-1-1 or activate Emergency Medical Services.”

Visit Deputy Heart Attack website for more information about heart disease and prevention or click here to download an educational brochure.

Find a Cardiologist

Recognize early warning signs of a heart attack and get the care you need as early as possible with the help of a cardiologist in El Paso. Call 866-934-3627 to schedule an appointment or to request an EHAC doctor referral.

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More Information

Pump It Up: Understanding Cardiac Metabolism

The human heart pumps an average of 2,000 gallons of blood per day.

And in 70 years, the average human heart will beat more than 2.5 billion times.

That is no small feat!

How to Fuel Your Heart

Similar to how your digestive system converts food into energy for your body, the human heart takes chemical energy and converts it into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is responsible for fueling every beat of your heat. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into every heartbeat.

This energy transfer is called cardiac metabolism. Cardiac metabolism’s goal is to produce enough chemical energy to transfer to mechanical energy. This mechanical energy will keep the heart running as smoothly as possible. To measure it, doctors pinpoint the levels of adenosine triphosphate (the body's primary chemical cellular energy source).

Don't Stress Your Heart Out

When your heart is healthy, your body produces enough chemical energy to fuel the mechanical energy needed to pump oxygenated blood to your entire body. This means you have sufficient cardiac metabolism.

When stressed, the heart switches from fat to carbs for energy. While this is okay occasionally, it can result in a loss of flexibility. Rather, the more stressed your heart is, the less it can adapt to stressful events again in the future. One study showed that adults with abnormal heart metabolism are up to three times more likely to experience life-threatening arrhythmias (heart rhythm).

Other conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia and hypertension can also cause abnormalities in cardiac metabolism. Treating those conditions may improve cardiac metabolism and protect against heart failure.

What Can You Do To Improve Your Heart Health

While we know that measuring cardiac metabolism may be a good indicator of overall heart health and it may identify the beginning stages of heart failure, doctors are just at the beginning of researching how all-encompassing cardiac metabolism is and what treatments can improve the energy transfer needed to fuel the heart.

In the meantime, take care of your heart with our heart-healthy tips:

1. Have regular wellness exams.
    a. Find a doctor you trust and get regular heart-health screenings. Be sure to raise any concerns you have about your heart health with your provider.
doctor and patient interacting
2. Stay active
     a. Get your blood pumping a few times a week. Exercise can reduce your risk for  heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
person exercising
3. Don't smoke
    a. Smoking can lead to heart failure. A study stated that those who smoked tobacco cigarettes developed heart failure at twice the rate of those who never smoked.
no smoking sign
4. Be aware of your family history
Heart disease can run in families. Knowing your family history can help you and your provider creates a plan to prevent heart disease.
family portrait
5. Watch your weight
     a. Maintaining a healthy weight can keep pressure off your heart. Having an excess of fat around your heart and liver can raise cholesterol levels, increase your blood pressure and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes- all of which can affect your cardiac metabolism levels.
image of a scale
The more we know about our bodies, the more we can protect ourselves. Concepts like cardiac metabolism help us understand what we cannot see so that we can keep our bodies as healthy as possible.

It’s never too early to start caring for your heart. Don’t delay care. Schedule a heart screening with one of our trusted providers today.

American Heart Association
Harvard Health Publishing
John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
National Library of Medicine
Science Daily
University of Utah