Dr. Matt Weiss, Cardiologist at Missoula’s Community Medical Center advises people to be aware of their heart health during the holidays, especially with the stress of the season and the rapidly changing temperatures over the past week.

Watch for signs of heart attack or stroke

“It's an important time to be aware of how you're feeling, what your body's telling you and think about the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke,” began Dr. Weiss. “That's pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness, nausea, and pain that radiates up to your arm or your jaw. Different people feel things in different ways, but those are kind of the standard textbook things we always hear about, but remember that everyone experiences things differently.”

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Dr. Weiss also provided some warning signs about a possible stroke.

“Stroke is perhaps maybe easier to spot if people are kind of speaking gibberish or having a hard time expressing their words eloquently as if their tongue were swollen,” he said. “It may be something like garbled speech, a droop in their face, or weakness in one arm versus the other arm. These things are signs of stroke and of course, that's a life-threatening condition and time is of the essence. So you want to ask for help quickly, but a family member can often help evaluate that kind of thing.”

Get help right away because it's better to be safe than sorry

Dr. Weiss provided some general advice to those who may be concerned about themselves or a loved one.

“Stress, whether it be physical or psychological, does contribute to your risk of heart attack or stroke,” he said. “This cold weather changes how the blood flows in the body changes what our blood pressure can be and can put more stress on the heart as well. So these are times to kind of be careful. But, you know, I think the most important thing is awareness, right? If you're feeling things that are unwell or not normal, or atypical for that patient or unusual, you know, ask for help because it's better to be safe than sorry.”

Community improving its cath lab

Dr. Weiss also wanted KGVO listeners and website readers to know about the improvements being made to help victims of heart attack or stroke, specifically for those living in the Bitterroot area.

“We're just off Highway 93 on the south side of town and we're the closest possible hospital that has this kind of capability to have the Cath Lab in this case,” he said. “So calling 911 and getting an ambulance sooner rather than later, and coming to a place that's capable of taking care of these higher risk conditions. For example, here at Community (Medical Center) we are in the process of spending over a million dollars to renovate our Cath Lab to make it the newest one in Montana. And it's for this purpose, right? I mean, these (heart attacks and stroke) are still the number one killers of folks in the United States and we're trying to improve care here in Missoula for the better.

Community Medical Center is located at 2827 Fort Missoula Road in Missoula.

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