Trust Your Heart

Trust Your Heart to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice

If you were having a heart attack, would you know it?

That may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but don’t be so sure. Between the fact that women often experience symptoms other than the recognizable chest pain, and that many men and women alike don’t realize their risk factors for heart disease, a cardiac event could be more likely than you think and could potentially go ignored until it’s too late.

During American Heart Month 2020 and all year long, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is working to help educate residents in its 35-town service area about the risks of heart disease and how to protect themselves.

Heart disease is a term for any condition that affects the heart’s structure and function. Annually, about 630,000 Americans die from heart diseases, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Women often aren’t diagnosed with heart disease until about 10 years later in life than men, yet it remains the #1 killer of women.

Coronary heart disease – which is commonly understood as clogged arteries – is the most common type of heart disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, a smoking habit, being overweight or obese, having diabetes or prediabetes, being physically inactive, eating an unhealthy diet, a family history of heart disease, preeclampsia during pregnancy and, for women, being over age 55.

Women who have gone through early menopause are twice as likely to develop heart disease.

Having just a single risk factor greatly increases the chances of developing heart disease, and the more risk factors a person has, the more serious concern should be. In Connecticut alone, 155,000 people have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, according to the NHLBI.

The good news is that simple steps can be taken to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease or to keep the disease from progressing and nearly 80 percent of cardiac events are preventable.

Know your numbers

Having your blood pressure, BMI, waist circumference, fasting glucose and cholesterol checked and discuss with your health provider what these numbers mean in terms of your risk for heart disease. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers Ask the Nurse clinics in Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Killingworth, Madison, North Haven and Woodbridge, at which a registered nurse can check these numbers for you and work with you to set health goals and determine what questions you should ask your doctor. There is no cost for this service and appointments are not required. Click here to see our full list of dates, locations and times.

Cholesterol and A1c cannot be checked during these clinics, but VNACHCH offers cholesterol lipid profile and blood sugar screenings with immediate results and nurse counseling for $35 in ou Guilford and Hamden offices. These appointed can be scheduled by calling our Helpline, 866.474.5230.

Get social support

Sticking to a regular exercise plan that includes at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week is critical to heart health, as is incorporating a healthy eating plan into your daily routine.  Diets high in trans and saturated fats, added sugars and sodium all increase the risk factors of heart disease. Social support can make a big difference in maintaining a commitment to lifestyle changes. Exercise classes you can attend with friends and a supportive instructor can be helpful. VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers numerous exercise classes for all fitness levels to help you make quick work of working out.

Get educated

Community heart health education courses offer resources, tips and information and can help increase your ability to take control of your heart health. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends people take a class, such as VNACHCH’s Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle – offered this February 19 at 1 p.m. in the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Wellness Center, 753 Boston Post Road, Guilford. These classes also teach how to spot the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, including lesser recognized symptoms like pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, as well as cold sweats, nausea and light-headedness.

“More than 1 in 10 Americans have been diagnosed with heart disease, but by taking proactive steps everyone can reduce their risk,” said VNACHCH Health Promotion Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “As a nonprofit home healthcare agency committed to bettering the health and wellness of members of the communities we serve, we are here to help you learn about your personal risk factors and to make the changes needed to avoid a heart disease diagnosis.”