Running is often associated with a healthy and active lifestyle. After all, it’s a great way to get your blood pumping. All you have to do is put on your sneakers and start running. Even if you’re a regular at the gym, trainers and fitness trainers tend to creep into your fitness routine. People have every reason to believe in the benefits of running. But you have to run with caution. Knowing how to recognize the signs of a heart attack is part of this awareness.
HealthShots consulted Dr. Tapan Ghose, Director of Cardiology, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, to find out how runners can spot the signs of a heart attack.
Signs of heart attack
Any chest pain, excessive shortness of breath and profuse sweating that is disproportionate to regular exercise can be symptoms of the first heart attack, warns Dr. Ghose. Other symptoms include:
• Light-headed feeling
• Discomfort in the muscles felt in the center of the chest, it can be pain in the left or right arm accompanied by sweating.
Runners versus sedentary women
It is believed that women who lead a sedentary lifestyle are able to notice signs of heart attack better than women who run. Let’s see if it’s a fact or not. Some common heart attack symptoms in women are
• Shortness of breath
• Jaw, neck or upper back pain
• Pressure in the lower chest
These are easily misinterpreted as exercise aftereffects. When the same symptoms are felt by a woman with a sedentary lifestyle, she probably pays more attention to them. A fit woman with a regular exercise regimen will think the pain is because she may have been lifting weight the wrong way or being hard on her body.
The exercise itself initially causes heart palpitations, sweating, and shortness of breath in most people, including trained women. However, when these symptoms are more or disproportionate or occur at a lower level of exercise, they should alarm you. So watch out for these symptoms, says Dr. Ghose.
Tips to prevent heart attack
A heart attack can surprise you like an unwanted guest, but there are tips to prevent it. Here’s what you can do:
• Know your risk factors
• Manage health environments such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Make heart-healthy food choices
• If you smoke, quit
Risk factors for heart attack are
• Age over 35, but no one is really immune
• Consumption of any form of tobacco
• High LDL cholesterol level above 100
• High blood pressure above 140/90
• Obesity (body mass index above 23 among Indians)
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Lack of exercise
• Lack of sleep (tips to help you sleep better)
• Minimal fruits and vegetables in the diet.
So even if you go out for a run every morning, think about your heart health as well. You just need to watch out for red flags to avoid a heart attack.
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