Keep Your Heart Healthy

heart, curve, health

As February is American Heart Month, we’re sharing information about the symptoms of heart attacks and cardiac arrest as well as steps you can take to prevent heart disease. 

Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances (plaque). Some heart attacks are sudden and intense but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. 

Pay attention to your body and call 911 immediately if you experience:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort  

Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness. As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops beating. A heart attack is considered a ‘circulation’ problem whereas a cardiac arrest is an ‘electrical’ problem. If you believe someone is suffering from cardiac arrest, check to see if they’re responsive. Call 911 and begin CPR if the person isn’t breathing or is gasping. Continue administering CPR until EMS arrives. 

Symptoms of cardiac arrest include:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness
    • The victim does not respond to tapping on shoulders. 
  • No normal breathing
    • The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt their head up and check for at least five seconds.

Heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and is still the leading cause of death worldwide.


In most cases, heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy lifestyle may prevent over 80% of coronary artery disease, 80% of sudden cardiac deaths, and 72% of premature deaths related to heart disease. Healthy lifestyle habits to adopt include:

  • Not smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling blood sugar and cholesterol 
  • Treating high blood pressure
  • Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week
  • Scheduling regular checkups with a medical professional


For those affected by heart disease, Freestone Medical Center offers one-on-one cardiac and pulmonary rehab services. Specially qualified cardiac and pulmonary rehab personnel work with patients and actively monitor heart rate, rhythm, and lung function while using treadmills, bicycles, and other aerobic equipment to gain strength, improve endurance, and improve overall heart and lung performance. Our cardiac rehab specialists also train and educate patients on nutrition and diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress reduction, and medication compliance. If you’d like to make an appointment with a healthcare provider call us at (903) 389-2121.  

Wellness Program

There are two levels available: a two day or three day a week option, costing $24 per month and $35 per month respectively. There are no startup fees. The workout area is available Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 7:30am and 4:30pm and Tuesday and Thursday between 8:00am and 12:00pm. To begin the program call FMC at (903) 389-1614.