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FOR RELEASE: January 20, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Coronary Heart Disease is the Single Largest Killer of Oklahomans Heed Warning Signs

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is Oklahoma's number one killer, still claiming more lives than the rest of the major causes of death. Cardiovascular diseases include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attack, angina, congestive heart failure, stroke, and congenital heart defects. National statistics indicate Oklahoma has the worst death rate in the nation for CVD.

"Uncontrolled high blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol are major contributors to coronary heart disease," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mike Crutcher. "Coronary heart disease alone is the single largest killer of Oklahomans. The disease continues to devastate both men and women of all ages, regardless of race and ethnicity. Heart attack is NOT a natural cause of death!"

The Oklahoma State Department of Health encourages Oklahomans to pay more attention to their heart health. Recognizing signs and symptoms of a heart attack is vital to the survival of an event. However, it is just as important to react to the signs in a timely manner by calling 9-1-1 immediately. Medical care for a heart attack victim begins the moment 9-1-1 is called.

Some heart attacks are sudden, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often, people affected aren't sure what is wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are warning signs that can mean a heart attack is occurring:

  1. Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  2. Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 
  3. Shortness of breath. This feeling often comes along with chest discomfort. But it can occur before the chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. 

To begin improving your heart health, start by having your blood pressure and cholesterol checked by a health care provider to make sure you are not at risk for a heart attack. Take action to bring high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol under control. Finally, talk with your health care provider about taking aspirin therapy if you have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.

For more heart healthy suggestions, contact your health care provider, your local county health department, or the Chronic Disease Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 405-271-4072.


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