Lawrence resident Amy Gilliland won’t forget July 15, 2008.
The American Heart Association provided the following tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle:
• Schedule a checkup every year.
• Walk instead of sit.
• Eat baked instead of fried.
• Breathe instead of smoke.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slow with mild pain or discomfort, according to the American Heart Association. If you have one or more of the following signs, don’t wait longer than 5 minutes before calling 911:
• 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. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, or in the back, neck, stomach or jaw.
• Shortness of breath. This may occur with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs. Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness can also accompany a heart attack.
- When: Saturday, February 27, 2010, 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Where: Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine St., Lawrence
- Cost: Free
- More on this event....
She had opened her new business, Massage Envy, and that night she received a phone call from her mother: “Kathy has had a heart attack and she has died.”
Kathy was Gilliland’s 46-year-old sister. Kathy also was a single mother of two teenage daughters, a schoolteacher and cheer coach.
“She was just like you and she was just like me,” Gilliland said. “She shared the same worries that we all do as women. Like you and like me, she was stressed out.”
Gilliland, 40, said her sister’s death was unexpected. She had painted her oldest daughter’s bedroom that day and then at 8:15 p.m., she died. Doctors said she had a spontaneous aortic rupture, or aneurysm in the chest cavity. Doctors also believe heightened stress played a factor in Kathy’s death.
“We all hear about diet and exercise all of the time, but we don’t hear so much about stress,” Gilliland said. “We have a hard time wrapping our heads around it because it is something that’s in our daily life.”
There’s work, family and finances.
“Stress is something that we all have to manage,” Gilliland said.
To relieve stress, Gilliland runs and lifts weights, and, of course, gets a regular massage. She estimates that 90 percent of the Massage Envy clients cite a need to reduce stress and relax as the reason for visiting.
Dr. John Hiebert, a Lawrence Memorial Hospital cardiologist, said psychological stress can trigger a stroke or heart attack. To help reduce stress, he suggests regular exercise like yoga or walking.
“I do believe that exercise decreases the vulnerability to psychological stress,” he said.
He also encourages people to acknowledge the warning signs of a heart attack and not to ignore them.
“In this last week, I have seen three patients who had heart attacks who dismissed the symptoms and then had heart damage that is not fully reversible,” Hiebert said.
The sooner people get help, he said, the better.