September 26, 2023

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – With American Heart Month taking place in February, UP Health System – Marquette is encouraging everyone to be aware of their heart’s health and how their lifestyle impacts their overall heart condition. One of the most important things to be aware of is risk factors that could spell trouble for your heart down the road. While it’s important to know about risk factors associated with your own medical family medical history, you can’t always do much about them. Joseph Ackerman, RN and Stemi-Chest Pain Coordinator for UP Health System – Marquette says focusing on other things you can control is crucial in minimizing facets of your health that are out of your hands.

“So in order to minimize those you have to kind of focus yourself on everything else like obesity, keeping your weight in check. Make sure your diet’s okay, making sure you’re active,” Ackerman said. “The other things are pretty much making sure you’re not smoking, and then watching your blood pressure, making sure that that stays in check. So those are the risk factors and those are the things that you should be focused on if you really want to live a heart-healthy life.”

UP Health System – Marquette offers a Heart Health Assessment you can take online. The hospital will contact you to help set up an appointment for treatment afterward if necessary. Aiming for 150 minutes of exercise per week, or about 20 to 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise every day is an important element in keeping your heart active.

“It’s imperative that you work your heart like a muscle, so exercising it and using that as your guide,” Ackerman said. “So if you’re used to doing weights or yoga or flexibility you know what your arm muscles or back muscles feel like when you are working out and after you work out, so you kind of want your heart to do the same thing, but in a controlled manner.”

Ackerman said before starting a regiment it’s recommended to talk it over with your physician to make sure it’s right for you and to avoid causing unintended harm. In addition to exercise, cutting out smoking and processed foods help to minimize risk of heart attack or stroke.

“A lot of those things are just gonna be you know what you’ve heard over and over and over again, but you really have to take it to heart, especially if you have a heart condition, because what it does if you stick with those kind of diets you end up with a fat deposit or lipid deposit within your bloodstream, and those lipid deposits can potentially block off some of your arteries,” Ackerman said. “And if those arteries are around your heart you can have a heart attack and if it’s around you’re head you’re gonna have a stroke. So those two things are big to stay away from, and so in order to do that you really have to monitor what you eat.”

When monitoring your heart health it’s important to be aware of certain symptoms that indicate a need to check in a with a medical professional. Signs like chest pain, weight on the chest, or pain that radiates down to your arms, jaw, and neck indicate the need to be examined before more serious issues occur down the line. Even less obvious indications like shortness of breath, fatigue, and nausea after exerting yourself should be monitored.

It’s also important to be aware of what to do when you are a bystander to someone who experiences a heart attack in public. After calling 911, conducting chest compressions while awaiting medical services can be key in getting treatment to the person suffering the heart attack in time. Ackerman recommends studying the American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR guide to learn about administering treatment.