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February is National Heart Health Month

Norwalk physician talks modifying heart disease risks

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Norwalk, CT | Added on February 07, 2015 At 09:01 AM

With Valentine's Day approaching, the month of February is known to capture images of love through symbols of hearts, whether it be through boxes of chocolates or decorations, but February is also American Heart Health month and physicians everywhere are encouraging individuals to show themselves some love by staying heart healthy for friends and loved ones. 

"It's very important that if you're experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or symptoms of a stroke that you dial 911. They can take care of you, they can take care of you faster. It may seem like you can drive here faster, but actually they can take care of you faster and better if they can get to you right away," said Anne Bartolone, director of cardiovascular clinical operations at Norwalk Hospital.

Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. The CDC reports about 600 thousand people in the U.S. die of heart disease each year, which equates to 1 in every 4 deaths, and every year 720 thousand Americans experience a heart attack. 

"We are all victims of our heritage so if you have a big family history of heart disease it's hard to ever get away from that, you will always have that, we know that men are more prone to heart disease than women, we know as we age we are more prone to heart disease," Bartolone said.

Anne Bartolone, director of cardiovascular clinical operations at Norwalk Hospital says the cardiac center treats 60 to 70 heart attack cases a year through its Primary Angioplasty Program. And like many diseases with uncontrollable risk factors, Bartolone says there isn't a "magic pill" for cardiovascular disease, but there are many ways to modify its risks.  

"It's diet and exercise and avoiding smoking," said Bartolone. "Smoking is a big risk factor for heart disease. It makes the heart have to work harder, it narrows the blood vessels and if you can do only one thing to improve your risk factors for heart disease, it would be to quit smoking." 

She also tells us men and women experience signs of a heart attack differently.  

"The pain tends to be centralized in the chest so people will usually describe chest pain radiating down their left arm, shortness of breath, sometimes the pain will go sometimes it will be back pain. Women, their heart attack symptoms, their heart attack symptoms tend to be a little different. They tend to feel just not so good. They've got more vague symptoms, their arm hurts, their back hurts, their jaw hurts, their stomach hurts. Women have a lot of G.I. upset when they have a heart attack. For most people when they're having a heart attack, they know that something is seriously wrong," Bartolone added.  

This spring and summer Norwalk Hospital will launch programs to train local residents on hands-only CPR and the use of AEDs. 


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