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Helping Your Heart Online Manual

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Nitroglycerin

Treats high blood pressure, and certain heart problems such as angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Learn more about nitroglycerin here.

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High blood pressure

Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.

Learn more about high blood pressure here.

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Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance made by your liver and found in the food you eat.

Learn more about cholesterol here.

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Tobacco use

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the U.S. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers, and 10 times as likely to develop peripheral arterial disease (known as PAD).

Learn more about tobbaco use here.

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Obesity

Nearly two-thirds of the United States population is overweight. There are many ways to determine if a person is overweight, but experts believe that a person's body mass index (BMI) is the best way to assess an adult's weight in relation to their height.

Learn more about obesity.

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Stress

Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another.

Learn more about stress here.

Especially for women

Heart attack symptoms

Did you know?

  • One in 8 women aged 45 to 64 has heart disease; this risk increases to 1 in 4 for women older than age 65.
  • Women's heart disease risk starts to increase significantly at menopause.
  • Younger women who smoke and take birth control pills increase their risk of a heart attack 10 times.
  • Women can lower their heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent by leading a healthy lifestyle.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Symptoms of a heart attack may be different for women. Research shows that women who have heart attacks often wait longer than men to seek emergency medical help.

One possible reason is that women sometimes have symptoms that are different from the ones most often associated with a heart attack. As a result, they may not even realize they are in trouble.

Watch for the following signs that are common in women:

  • discomfort or pain in your upper body or chest such as pressure, squeezing or tightness lasting more than a few minutes
  • pain that moves to your shoulders, neck, arms, jaw, teeth or back and is spread around. Other possible locations of pain caused by heart problems are midchest, shoulders, elbows, upper abdomen or fingers
  • sudden weakness and/or unusual tiredness, lightheadedness, sweating, or shortness of breath, nausea or loss of appetite.

The key to surviving a heart attack is to recognize warning signals quickly and get medical help right away.

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Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts