TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – The CDC reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths.
February is American heart month.
Terre Haute resident John Davis knows the repercussions of heart disease all too well.
He walks multiple times a week to stay healthy.
“One reason is there's a history in my family of heart disease; mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, all died either of heart attack or stroke. So I want to try to keep myself as healthy as possible,” Davis said.
News 10 talked to Autumn Sheese, a nurse practitioner in the cardiology department at Ascension St. Vincent Clay, on Friday.
"Early warning signs can include shortness of breath, fatigue, unable to complete activities that you're normally able to complete. Late warning signs include chest discomfort, left arm pain or jaw pain,” Sheese described.
Health experts say your symptoms are going to be very subtle.
“The most common question I get in the office is, ‘How do I know I’m having a heart attack,’” Sheese told News 10. “It’s not common to have the ‘clutch your chest, fall to the ground’ symptoms. Those are much later symptoms of heart disease.”
A yearly visit to your doctor can help with early detection.
"They can provide lab work, which would detect diabetes or high cholesterol. They can also recommend things like our heart scan,” Sheese told News 10.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a role in prevention.
Health experts say this includes not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding fast food.
"I go to my cardiologist often just on a regular basis just to make sure that everything is okay, and I attempt to eat well, that doesn't all work, but at least I attempt that,” Davis said.
A few lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
"I think it's very important for people to continue to have their heart checked and be heart-wise, because you just never know when something might happen to you or a member of your family, so we need to always be aware of that,” Davis said.