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Staying on top of heart health ahead of the holidays

COLUMBIA, Mo.

According to officials, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of adults in America each year.

Heart attacks occur when an artery that carries blood throughout your body becomes blocked, stopping blood flow to the heart, killing a part of the heart muscle.

Blockage can occur from plaque build up or damage to the artery. Plaque is built up over time, and can be caused by several factors including tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Sometimes risk factors cannot be prevented, like Type 1 diabetes. However, tobacco use as well as the food and drinks you consume can be altered to live a healthier life. This includes eating more vegetables and fruits, as well as lean meats.

According to Dr. Brian Bostick, a cardiologist with MU Healthcare, it is a disease that develops over time.

"It's a disease that comes with aging," Bostick said. "Those over 50 or 60 (years old), or even as early as 30 need to be thinking about this."

According to Bostick, the heart doesn't have the same pain receptors as your skin does.

"People feel it as a pressure in their chest," Bostick said. "They get shortness of breath, dizzy or lightheaded and sick to their stomach from that pain."

According to Bostick, one of the most common pains is tightness in the chest and pain extending down a persons left arm or up their neck into their jaw.

Eric Hoy -- Chief of Cole County EMS -- said there are things that an everyday person can do to potentially save someone experiencing cardiac arrest.

First, immediately call 911 and alert EMS of the situation. After that, perform CPR with chest compressions.

"Right on the center of the breast bone, between the middle of the chest," Hoy said. "Compress hard and fast at a rate of 100 compressions per minute."

A good way to remember is to compress the chest to the beat of "Stayin' Alive" by The Bee Gees.

"If you are at a point where you can't tell if there's a pulse or not, it's always safer to do chest compressions," Hoy said.

If the person is conscious enough to resist compressions, obviously do not proceed.

MU Health Care has recently started a program called Love Your Heart Screening. This program is designed to give people old than 30 years old with a risk factor the ability to have their heart screened.

There is no referral necessary. Call 573-882-4439 to schedule an appointment that will last roughly an hour. Screening will cost $120 and will not be billed to insurance.

Article Topic Follows: News

Ethan Heinz

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