New York Daily News
NEW YORK - Many people don't realize they have coronary artery disease until it's too late.
Former President Bill Clinton may have saved his life by paying attention to tightness in his chest, one important warning sign that his arteries had become clogged.
But it's not the only warning sign.
According to the cardiac experts at Cleveland Clinic Heart Center - U.S. News and World Report's No. 1 Hospital for heart care - heeding these seven signs could mean the difference between life and death.
-Chest discomfort ranging from numbness, heaviness, dull aching or burning, which may radiate to the left shoulder, arms, neck, back or jaw.
-Shortness of breath.
-Palpitations (a fluttering feeling or skipped heartbeats).
-Faster heart rates.
Experts recommend you see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. And if they last longer than 15 minutes, get to an emergency room.
But why let it get that far?
The American Heart Association says you can cut your risk of a heart attack by eliminating or controlling these problems, especially if you have a family history of heart problems.
The risk factors are:
-High blood pressure
-Smoking cigarettes and cigars
-Lack of exercise
There are several courses of action doctors can take to treat coronary blockages, from medication to angioplasty (a balloon inflated inside the artery) or, as in Clinton's case, bypass surgery.
But, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic warn, the procedures don't cure the disease. Only eating well, exercising, quitting smoking and taking prescribed medications will stop the disease from progressing.
(c) 2004, New York Daily News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.