Get Healthy Carson City is a weekly column addressing topics related to the health of our community.
Next Monday is Valentine's Day, and there will be hearts all around. February is also American Heart Month, so this is a great time to pay attention to your own heart's health.
Coronary heart disease is an important public health concern. Factors like overweight and obesity, smoking, diabetes, stress, and alcohol abuse all contribute to heart disease risk. Over time, these risk factors, combined with family history, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels may lead to negative health outcomes, including chest pain, heart attack and stroke. While Carson City is slightly below the national average for heart disease death rates, the state of Nevada as a whole is above the national average. Clark County (Las Vegas) and Esmeralda County have the highest rates in the state.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States, but it can be prevented. By choosing a healthier lifestyle you can reduce your risk for heart disease.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is recommended for heart health and weight management. By choosing foods low in sodium and saturated fat, you can show your heart some love.
Another way you can keep your heart healthy is by reducing stress in your life. Take a few minutes each day to relax or do something for yourself. Take deep breaths, go on a walk, or enjoy the outdoors. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages participating in aerobic exercise as a way to aid in stress reduction and enhance mood.
The most recent guidelines from the United States Department of Health and Human Services recommend that adults aged 18 and up take part in 2 1/2 hours of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity throughout the week. Exercising even more than that can provide additional health benefits, but listen to your body and don't overdo it. Some activity is always better than no activity.
One of the best health decisions you can make for your heart and for the rest of your body is to quit smoking. If you are a smoker, your risk of heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and cancer are all increased. Do your heart and yourself a favor and make the choice to kick the tobacco habit. If you need help or guidance, Carson City Health and Human Services offers a tobacco cessation program, or you can call the Nevada Quit Line 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
It is important to recognize the signs of a heart attack and to act immediately by calling 9-1-1. A person's chances of surviving a heart attack are increased if emergency treatment is given to the victim as soon as possible.
The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
• Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
• Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
• Shortness of breath.
Carson City Health and Human Services
900 East Long St., Carson City
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Wednesday and Friday by appointment
Men's Clinic: 4-6 p.m. Mondays. Call for an appointment
Thursday is Immunization Day: 8:30-11:30 a.m.; 1-4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
Vaccination is the best defense against the flu! CCHHS offers flu injections or nasal mist for $10.
• Cortney Bloomer and Valerie Cauhape, Carson City Health and Human Services.