February is American Heart Month

February 25, 2021
February is American Heart Month

Heart Month is all about bringing awareness to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.  

Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of heart disease vary depending on the type of heart disease someone may have, but they may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Rapid or slow heartbeat
  • Swelling in the arms, legs, or abdomen
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can be a severe condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. There are two types of hypertension, primary and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension doesn't have an identifiable cause and develops gradually over time. Secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition such as obstructive sleep apnea, kidney disease, adrenal gland tumors, and thyroid issues. Some medications like birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can also cause secondary hypertension. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, and dementia.

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease is the most common form of heart disease. Coronary Artery Disease is when the blood vessels to the heart narrow and can't supply the heart with enough oxygenated blood. Inflammation and plaque deposits containing cholesterol in the coronary arteries are common causes of Coronary Artery Disease. Coronary Artery Disease can lead to chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, and abnormal heartbeat. Coronary Artery Disease often develops over decades, so you may not notice a problem until you have a significant blockage or even heart attack.

Heart Attack

Heart attacks are a common consequence of heart disease. Heart attacks happen when there is a blockage of blood flow to the heart, which can damage and destroy part of the heart muscle. Common symptoms of a heart attack are: 

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw, or back
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Not all heart attack symptoms are the same or have the same intensity. Some people only experience sudden cardiac arrest without having any other signs or symptoms. It is imperative to call 911 for medical assistance immediately for the best chance of recovery. If you suspect someone is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. If they do not have a pulse, start CPR quickly until help arrives. It is recommended to only drive yourself to the hospital if there is no other choice due to the possibility of the symptoms getting worse.

Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Ways to reduce your risk of heart disease are:

  • Increase your activity level
  • Monitor your blood pressure 
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Reduce stress
  • Get quality sleep
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Heart Disease Complications

Complications from heart disease include:

  • Swelling in your feet and legs
  • Shortness of breath
  • Limited strength and endurance for walking or other activities

How We Can Help

Therapy Achievements works with people who have these complications and more.  Our team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists can help you improve your function so you can re-gain independence and accomplish more despite having heart disease.  Call for an appointment today!