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Heart Attack Prevention

Beating an average of 115,200 times per day, hearts provide the lifeblood of oxygen and nutrients to keep our bodies alive and well. A lot goes on in those four little chambers, and sometimes things can go wrong. Nearly 84 million Americans suffer from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), according to the American Heart Association. Approximately 2,150 people die of CVD each day. We’re here to help. 

Signs and Symptoms

If you or a loved one experience any of the following symptoms, get medical attention immediately.

  • Pain, squeezing, fullness or pressure in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and returns
  • Pain that moves to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Chest discomfort, accompanied by lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, fatigue, nausea or shortness of breath

Some less common symptoms include:

  • Unusual chest, stomach or abdominal pain
  • Nausea or dizziness (without chest pain)
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Anxiety, weakness or fatigue for no apparent reason
  • Heart palpitations, breaking out in a cold sweat or paleness

Most heart attacks begin with subtle symtoms. Don’t downplay your symptoms. If symptoms last longer than a few minutes, call 911 or other emergency medical services.


The American Heart Association presents: ‘Just a Little Heart Attack.’

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, there are risk factors such as increasing age, family history and race that you can't change. The good news is many risk factors for cardiovascular disease can be controlled with lifestyle changes or medication. Risks you can change include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Being physically inactive
  • Chronic stress
  • High triglyceride/cholesterol levels
  • Type 2 diabetes

It’s never to early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating better and becoming more physically active. Learn what is and isn’t in your control when it comes to heart disease.

Help Yourself

There is no better time than now to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

  • Quit smoking. Smoking boosts the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Vist with a tobacco cessation specialist at Altru.
  • Aim for a healthy weight. It's important for a long, vigorous life. Overweight and obesity cause many preventable deaths. Learn about Altru’s Weight Management Program.
  • Get moving. Make a commitment to be more physically active. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
  • Eat for heart health. Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, and moderate in total fat. Learn about your heart’s favorite foods.
  • Know your numbers. Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides) and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.

Additional Resources