What is a heart attack?

A heart attack happens when the heart cannot get the oxygen and nutrients it needs to properly work.  Every heart attack can be different. However, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort of the chest.  There may also be pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.  There might be shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat. If the heart is starved of oxygen and nutrients, the muscle can be damaged or dies – that’s why it’s important to call 911 right away.

Reduce your risk of having a heart attack by following these 10 recommendations given by the American Heart Association.

  • Quit smoking if you smoke
  • Eat well balanced meals
  • Get moving by exercising
  • Get good quality sleep
  • Manage diabetes
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Keep blood cholesterol at good levels
  • Maintain blood pressure at healthy levels
  • Lower weight if overweight or obese
  • Learn to manage stress

Compiled by our on-site diabetes educator, Cecilia Chapman, RDN, CDCES