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Winnipeg Regional Health Authority nurses Lorraine Avery and Eva Stephens communicate how important it is to keep track of your heart health.

With hearts in the air and love on the rise, it's also important to keep self-care and heart health in mind. Eva Stephens of the Lipid Clinic at St Boniface Hospital, and Lorraine Avery a regional clinical nurse specialist with the cardiac sciences program at WRHA, share symptoms of heart attacks and stroke to watch for.

Stephens says, "symptoms of a heart attack could be uncomfortable pressure, pain, or or squeezing at the centre of your chest. You might have pain or discomfort in both arms, neck, jaw, or stomach. You may have shortness of breath or nausea. Symptoms of stroke includes unclear thinking and weakness to one side of the body. These are important symptoms to pay attention to and let someone know about."

Avery says,"there is no one symptom that everyone has. Everyone may describe pain differently, especially women, men, the elderly, and children."

There are five big ways to prevent heart troubles that these professionals suggest:

1. Avoid tobacco or any smoking from cigarettes or cigars. Look for ways to quit. 

2.  Look for ways to be active. Move every ten minutes for every hour of sitting. Make 10,000 steps a day.

3. Maintain a healthy body weight. 

4. Enliven your diet. Add good quality foods like poultry, beans nuts, and subtracting those processed foods, salt, and carbohydrates.

5. Drink alcohol in moderation. Limit your intake: men 1-2 a day,  1 for women.

Avery says, "I think it's really important to embrace lifestyle changes. Sometimes that can be challenging and scary at first. Have a conversation with your health care provider to talk about your risks and to develop a health plan to maintain over your life." 

"The important part is to be aware of your risk," Stephens added, "if you're at low risk, its a great thing to embrace that you're doing everything you should. If you're at moderate risk, those are things your doctors will pay attention to. It's good to be aware of those risks. If you're high risk, a physician can help you look at considering the medication you are taking can help bring that risk down."

Heart disease doesn't just affect the individual, it also affects the family and friends of that individual.

Stephens explains,"heart disease is definitely a family disease.  It's important to attend a cardiac rehab program to maintain heart health. If you are having symptoms, call 9-11 and not drive yourself to the hospital. This is particularly important as we do have systems set up to ensure individuals get the treatment they need in a timely manner. We know that time delays in seeking help and treatment definitely impact negatively on patients' outcome."

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