It’s National Heart Month, a time when we recognize the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, reminds us about the signs of a heart attack and how to respond if you or a loved one has one.

What factors increase our risk of having a heart attack?

There are a number of risk factors you can’t do anything about including age, ethnicity, gender and family history. However, risk factors that are within your power to change are:

● Smoking

High Cholesterol


High Blood Pressure

● Being Overweight

● Physical inactivity

● Poor Nutrition and

● Poor Mental Health

What are the signs of a heart attack?

Some people who experience the symptoms of a heart attack mistakenly ignore the signs, thinking that it’s something less serious that will pass. Common signs include:

Chest Discomfort: pressure, squeezing, burning or pain in the center of the chest.

Upper Body Discomfort: discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

Other Signs: Cold sweats, shortness of breath, nausea and lightheadedness

Do men and women experience different symptoms?

Women may experience different symptoms than men and are more likely to experience fatigue, nausea or weakness instead of typical chest pain.

What to do if a loved one has a heart attack?

Don’t attempt to tough out the symptoms of heart attack. Many people who experience a heart attack have warning signs hours or days in advance. If you or a loved one notices any signs, please call 911 immediately.

Want a night on the town in Washington, D.C.? Take Adventist HealthCare’s fast, FREE heart health risk assessment this February to learn your risk for heart disease and enter for your chance to win a two-night getaway in Washington D.C. with a $200 gift card to the Kennedy Center.

Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Take our FREE online Heart Risk Assessment