February is American Heart Month. Dr. Suprina Dorai of Ally Medical Emergency Room joined Studio 512 Host Rosie Newberry to talk about Heart Month and more.

Can you start by telling us what exactly is American Heart Month?

“Heart Month is held every February and is a movement to educate people about cardiovascular disease. A heart attack strikes someone about every 40 seconds. It 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 or cholesterol.”

Million Hearts is a national initiative that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2027. There are three priorities for this, which include building healthy communities for decreased smoking, and increasing exercise; optimizing care by improving blood pressure control and cholesterol management; as well as focusing on health equity and committing to specific populations who experience inequities, including pregnant and postpartum women with hypertension, people from racial/ethnic minority groups, and lower-income patients.”

Speaking about health equity, there are researched differences in the treatment of women and minorities with chest pain.

“Women may overlook classic heart attack symptoms like chest pain and pressure. They also tend to minimize their symptoms and delay seeking treatment. In fact, one study that measured how long people waited before seeking treatment for a heart attack found a delay time of about 54 hours for women, compared with about 16 hours for men. Anecdotal evidence suggests that men often say their wives urge them to go to the emergency room when chest pain strikes. So men, always, always listen to your wives.”

The American Heart Association highlighted disparities between men and women. For example, within a year of a first heart attack, survival rates are lower in women than in men. Within five years, almost half of women who’ve experienced a first heart attack will die, develop heart failure, or suffer from a stroke, compared with 36% of men.”

“In terms of minority health care disparities, the odds for hospital readmission for African Americans with heart attacks is a third higher than those of different ethnicities. Some reasons for this include implicit bias in treatment recommendations and social determinants including income status and limited social support in cardiac care outcomes. Healthcare providers need to consider other factors in their risk stratification and have more extensive follow-ups.”

“There are also gender disparities in hospital readmission, particularly among young African American women. This population was more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within a year of having a heart attack, with nearly half of the women included in the study experiencing hospital readmission.”

How Ally Medical can help

“Ally Medical Emergency Rooms are equipped to help in the event of a heart-related emergency, and we strive to overcome health care disparities.”

“If you do have symptoms concerning a heart attack, we would start with an EKG, which is essentially an electronic picture of what your heart is doing, and then potentially do further testing including lab work, X-rays, and CT scans.”

“Depending on your symptoms and risk factors, a test to see how your heart functions called a stress test can also be ordered during your stay — typically within 24 hours. This is different from many hospitals that may need to admit you to get these cardiovascular tests.”

What can individuals do to reduce the risk of heart disease?

“Know the signs and symptoms — only 11% of the public recognizes the major signs and symptoms of a heart attack and knows to call 9-1-1. These symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and pain in the jaw, neck, or arm.”

“Women may have atypical symptoms including upper back or a pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them. They may also feel dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.”

“Controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol is also extremely important. Reducing blood pressure can decrease heart attacks by 21% and total cardiovascular deaths by 25%. The majority of people with high blood cholesterol do not have it under control. Even a 10% decrease in total cholesterol levels can reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease by a third.”

What is Ally Medical doing to increase awareness of heart disease in our community?

“This month, Ally Medical helped Austin’s Boone Elementary become a Heart Smart School. Over 30 teachers were instructed in CPR/AED/Choking curriculum to ensure at least half of their staff has had training. Boone Elementary’s campus will now have two functioning Automated External Defibrillators (AED).”

“If your child’s school needs training like this, contact us or visit our website for more information, we would love to have more school staff educated on emergency treatments.”

“This month, we’ve also been sharing ways on social media to support Hearth Month and providing online resources for education.

“At the end of February, Ally Medical will be conducting free CPR classes for small businesses at our various site locations, which you can learn more about on our website.

What should someone do if they suspect someone they know has a heart-related emergency?

“If you experience any symptoms we mentioned earlier, including atypical ones, you should seek medical attention immediately. Each Ally Medical Emergency Room is prepared to treat major and minor medical emergencies, including heart emergencies, for children and adults of all ages. Patients may come in any time–day or night–with little to no wait.”

Learn more at AllyMedical.com.

This segment is paid for by Ally Medical Emergency Room and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.