By Eric J. Uhrik, M.D.
Each year National Wear Red Day is a day set aside for women to learn how to lessen their risk for heart attack and stroke. Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, yet it is 80 percent preventable with lifestyle changes and medication. It’s never too late for women to get heart healthy. Join the celebration and schedule an annual physical exam and start your heart-healthy habits right now. Here are a few tips for women from the American Heart Association:
• Do you have a family history of heart disease and stroke? If so, see your doctor to learn what you can do to decrease this hereditary risk.
• Don’t smoke, and stay away from second-hand smoke. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States.
• Drink in moderation. Alcohol can add calories, raise your blood pressure, and lead to heart attack and stroke.
• Ask your doctor about birth control that won’t put your heart at risk. Some oral contraceptives can cause an increase in blood pressure. Remember that smoking and oral birth control can lead to blood clots and other cardiovascular disease.
• Knowing the numbers that impact your heart is an important step toward healthy living. Have an annual physical exam to track cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI (body mass index) and other heart-heath indicators, including a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise.
Also, keep in mind, if you or someone you’re with is having a stroke, don’t waste a minute, time is brain and remember the acronym “BE FAST.”
Balance – Sudden loss of balance and loss of coordination. A person may stumble and experience sudden dizziness.
Eyes – Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes. A person may have blurred, blackened or double vision.
Face – Sudden numbness on one side. Ask the person to smile. Is one side of their face drooping?
Arm– Sudden numbness or weakness on one arm. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one side drifting downward?
Speech– Sudden inability to speak or slurred speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does it sound strange?
Time – Time lost is brain lost. Don’t wait. Call 9-1-1 immediately. The faster treatment starts, the less chance of brain damage.
Join Raritan Bay Medical Center for a free event “Shades of Red: Heart, Body & Soul” on Feb. 5. This fun evening includes healthy heart education, giveaways, hors d’oeuvres, wine and music, 5-8 p.m., in the Medical and Surgical Pavilion, 2 Hospital Plaza, Old Bridge. RSVP is suggested; call 800-DOCTORS. Don’t forget to wear something red!
Eric J. Uhrik, M.D., is medical director of the Stroke Center at Raritan Bay Medical Center, a member of the Meridian Health family. He has been a practicing neurologist for more than 18 years and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Uhrik is board certified in Neurology, board eligible in Neurocritical Care and was recognized as a Top Doctor in Neurology by New Jersey Monthly magazine in 2013 and 2014. Raritan Bay is a N.J. state designated Primary Stroke Center and received the American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award in 2015, recognizing high-quality treatment of stroke patients. For more information, call the Stroke Center at 732-324-4970.