The perfect gift this Valentine’s Day is the gift of heart health. Along with the romantic holiday, February marks American Heart Month, which is a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances.
Lynda Powell,age 69, is a survivor of heart disease. Back in November Powell was working at Macy's in the Grand Teton Mall when a co-worker asked if she was feeling OK? Powell at that point was feeling an enormous amount of pressure in her chest.
"I told my co-worker I think I'm having a heart attack!" Powell said.
Common symptoms of heart attack are similar to men's symptoms, however, women have experienced them differently said Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Cardiologist Dr. Douglas Blank.
"Some women may not have the typical chest pain they may have different discomforts. They may have shortness of breath, fatigue and tiredness," Blank said.
Other associated symptoms could be sweating, stomach pain, nausea and arm or neck pain.
Powell was cared for at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. A week later she was back on her feet and spreading the word of heart health. Not only is Powell assisting customers on department store floors she also takes the time to inform women and men about heart disease.
Due in part to her own personal experience, Powell has become a champion of awareness and heart health. Powell is an advocate for Macy's Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection. Customers have the chance through this campaign to donate money to the cause.
"Just take time for yourself. Make sure you're OK. If your health isn't Ok you can't take care of your children or be there for your children," Powell said.
She realizes now the warning signs she failed to recognize, the history of heart disease in her family, and what she is doing now to combat her heart disease and prevent another heart attack.
"It was a wake up call. I need to take control of my health. It's my turn to take control of my health, " Powell said. "I ignored the family history of heart failure and the symptoms. The sudden weight gain, the inability to concentrate, sometimes the feeling of exhaustion. I blamed it on being normal for an active busy women."
Powell said her inspiration to continue practicing proper health is her 7 year-old granddaughter.
"My granddaughter asked, "Grandma will you always be here? And I said "Yes" I will. I will be at your wedding I promise you."
Powell is determined to fullfill that promise.
"My husband and I sat down and have gone over a new menu. We bought cook books and eat things that are salt free. I've also started an herb garden. And making my health priority," Powell said.