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Arm yourself against heart attack
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DARLINGTON - February is American Heart Health Month. Coronary artery disease is the No. One killer in the U.S. so it vital to reduce risk factors, know the warning signs and know how to respond quickly and properly if warning signs occur.

To reduce the risk of heart attack:

1. Stop smoking

2. Lower high blood pressure

3. Reduce high blood cholesterol

4. Aim for and maintain a healthy weight

5. Be physically active every day

6. Manage diabetes

A healthy diet is essential to a healthy heart, but what is a "healthy diet?"

The USDA released MyPyramid (the new food guide pyramid system.) It symbolizes a personalized approach to healthy eating and physical activity. The symbol is simple and is designed to remind people to make healthy food choices and be active every day.

A healthy diet is one that:

• Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk/milk products;

• Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and

• Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars;

• Emphasizes incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Visit for great information about the new food guide pyramid.

Know the early warning signs of a heart attack:

1. Chest discomfort - Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

2. Discomfort in other areas of the upper body - Pain can be in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw and stomach.

3. Shortness of breath - This often comes along with chest discomfort, but it can also occur before chest discomfort,

4. Other symptoms - May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness

If you or someone you are with has chest discomfort, especially with one or more of the other signs - don't wait longer than a few minutes before calling for help. Call 911 or get to hospital right away.

Each year, about 250,000 people die suddenly due to cardiac arrest. About 5 percent survive, often because for the other 95 percent of victims, CPR and defibrillation are provided too late or not at all. In order to change these statistics, more Americans must arm themselves with the knowledge to save lives.

The American Heart Association and the Lafayette County Health Department remind everyone how important it is to know the chains of survival:

• Early Access - Get help to the victim early; call 911 as soon as possible.

• Early CPR - Early CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) means knowing CPR and giving it promptly and properly. When CPR is performed, mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions circulate blood and oxygen to vital organs - buying time.

• Early Defibrillation - Early defibrillation means delivering an electric shock to the heart within minutes of cardiac arrest. Defibrillation delivers a shock to the heart to stop the abnormal heart rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume.

• Early Advanced Life Support - This means having qualified emergency personnel on the scene immediately to help and transport to a medical facility.

The Lafayette County Health Department has many available heart healthy screenings through its health day clinics. Screenings such as blood pressure and blood sugar are available along with immunizations along with foot care.

For clinic schedules and/or more information regarding Health Department services, call the Lafayette County Health Department at (608)776-4895 or visit the Web site at: