How to Recognize a Heart Attack and Lower Your Risk for Having One

During February’s Heart Month observance, Mercy Health - Springfield encourages you to know your risks for heart disease.


Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the number one killer of both men and women. Learning the symptoms and risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease is the first step to prevention and seeking treatment.


According to Mercy Health Physician and cardiologist Faiq Akhter, MD, cardiology section chief, symptoms such as uncomfortable pressure or pain in the center of the chest tend to be the most common. However, there are others that are not as common but equally as dangerous.


Nausea, dizziness, stomach or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, sweating, weakness or fatigue may all be indicators of a heart attack. Women and diabetics may be more likely to experience symptoms outside of the classic chest pain. It important to be in-tune with your body and realize what your risk factors are.  


Be aware of all heart attack symptoms, especially if you have the following risk factors: tobacco use, high blood pressure or cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity or being overweight or if you have a family history of heart disease.

“There are simple steps that you can take to lower that risk of a heart attack or stroke,” Dr. Akhter said. “As a cardiologist, I always tell my patients to take responsibility for their health and learn more about those risk factors and what they can do to lower them. I encourage them to ask questions and take an active role in their healthcare.”


Even the smallest changes in your diet and exercise habits can reduce your risk for heart disease.  Start by focusing on the risk factors that you can treat and control, such as high cholesterol, alcohol intake and tobacco use. 


If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you think may be at risk for heart disease, please contact your physician today.