This article was originally published by Current-Argus and can be found here.
Carlsbad Medical Center's interventional cardiologist, Dr. Amanda Ryan, said February is the perfect time to talk about heart health.
February is American Heart Month, in which the American Heart Association spends time educating the public about cardiovascular disease and prevention.
"I think understanding what your risks are and then, one step at a time, making changes in the right direction, that's important as well as being able to recognize the symptoms obviously of a heart attack," Ryan said.
While chest pain is often the most recognizable symptom of a heart attack, Ryan said less than half of the women who suffer from a heart attack experience the symptom.
"They're more likely to have shortness of breathe, nausea, excessive sweating or extreme fatigue," Ryan said.
Major symptoms also include shortness of breathe, weakness, extreme nausea and a feeling of impending doom.
Ryan said that while men have typically led the field in being at-risk and being diagnosed with heart disease, currently one out of every two women in the United States die of heart disease.
In New Mexico, it is especially important for people to understand the risk factors that can lead to heart disease or heart attack.
"Modifiable risk factors" — those factors that are within a person's control — can be key to prevention and heart health, Ryan said.
They include smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, hypertension, obesity and inactivity.
Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, cause more than 17.3 million deaths per year - the leading cause of death around the world, according to the American Heart Association website.
"One thing I think for sure is that people don't understand the relationship between diabetes and heart disease," Ryan said.
While obesity is often related to Type 2 diabetes, Ryan said genetics and diet play a large role in why New Mexicans are more susceptible to heart disease.
The New Mexico Department of Health has identified obesity and diabetes as "super-priorities."
Thirty-five percent of adults in Eddy County are considered obese, according to NM Department of Health statistics. Eddy County is fourth in the state in obesity, and 12 percent of adults have been diagnosed with diabetes.
"There are many patients out here who are not heavy who have diabetes," Ryan said. "Here there are a lot of average-weight people who have diabetes which is a significant risk factor for heart disease."
CMS saves time for heart attack patients
For one oilfield worker who was eventually diagnosed as having suffered from a heart attack, time was the single life-saving factor, Ryan said.
The patient was brought to the Carlsbad Medical Center within the national standard of 90 minutes. Ryan said his heart suffered no damage as a result.
"There's a certain type of heart attack that is known as an S.T.E.M.I., it implies that they have 100 percent blockage in one of their heart arteries," Ryan said. "It is very important that that artery gets open within 90 minutes of time so that their heart doesn't sustain damage."
As an interventional cardiologist, Ryan often performs invasive procedures. However, prevention is among one of the medical center's priorities.
"It could be anything from palpitations, or high blood pressure to more significant acute blockages as in someone having a heart attack so we have a large spectrum of cardiac patients," Ryan said.
Ryan said that working with Eddy County's Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel has become an important part of responding to medical emergencies.
"Our EMS here in Eddy County are very well trained as well and they know how to recognize the signs, symptoms," Ryan said.
2430 West Pierce
Carlsbad, NM 88220