Avera Medical Minute: Staying healthy during American Heart Month

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 9:36 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Heart Health is important all year round.

But did you know, you can be at more risk for a heart attack during the winter months? That’s because colder weather can increase your blood pressure and raise cholesterol levels, two major risk factors for heart attacks.

“As you’re out in the cold, your vessels tend to constrict, and this can cause increased demand on your heart,” said Avera Emergency Physician Dr. Lucas Mailander.

“Why does it do that? Because the blood then has to go through more resistance. So the blood pressure goes up, the heart goes up to oxygenate and circulate the rest of your body.” The colder the weather the more demand on our heart, especially when temperatures sink below freezing.

The tasks that come along colder weather put even more strain on our heart. “Shoveling snow, even walking in deep snow, if you have coronary artery disease, or another cardiovascular risk factors, it kind of puts you at twofold risk of having a complication,” said Dr. Mailander.

Eating a heart-healthy diet, and living an active lifestyle can go a long way to improve our heart health.

Medical professionals say there is another important tool everyone should have in their toolbox when it comes to saving a life.

“The number one killer of men and women in the United States is heart disease,” said Avera Heart Hospital Education Coordinator Kym Osterberg. “So knowing hands-only CPR can save your life, and save the life of a loved one.”

Hands-only CPR removes the step of delivering rescue breaths to someone needing resuscitation. “Hands only CPR is only doing compressions only using your hands to provide compressions on the chest to move that blood,” said Osterberg.

This method of CPR emerged in the early 2000s and is more approachable for those who are performing life-saving efforts on strangers.

“Because really, the most important part of this in that CPR process for the patient is the compressions,” said Osterberg.

Medical professionals say the first few minutes after someone’s heart stops are the most vital, and CPR should be administered immediately.

“Take your hand, I take my dominant hand and I’m right handed, so I put that in the center of the sternum, interlock my hands,” said Osterberg. “Push hard, push fast, in the center of the chest and always make sure you allow full recoil, so the heart can fill back up again and push blood to the brain.”

Compressions should be done about 100 beats per minute. An easy way to remember that is to think of the tune to a few popular songs. “So you can either hum or sing to yourself Staying Alive, by the Bee Gees, or the new one is Baby Shark,” said Osterberg. “It’s the same rate.”

This simple act of CPR can kick start a heart and save a life.

More information can be found at www.Avera.org/MedicalMinute

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