Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

When people think of heart attack symptoms, they often think of stabbing chest pain. However, that’s not always how symptoms manifest, particularly in women. The following are serious symptoms that can indicate a looming heart attack. If any of these symptoms are present, consider seeking medical attention.

Chest Discomfort
The most common symptom is chest discomfort, including pain, tightness, squeezing, or pressure. In women, chest discomfort is more likely to feel like pressure or tightness.

Radiating Pain
Pain isn’t necessarily restricted to the center of the chest. It may be felt at the sides or even in the upper abdomen or back. It can also radiate into your shoulders, jaw, neck, or arms. Remember, anything above the waist could be related to the heart.

Shortness of Breath
Sometimes your body will present symptoms well before an attack. For instance, you may experience shortness of breath during normal activities. If you notice this symptom, your doctor may run blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose tests and administer an EKG.

Feeling Faint, Lightheaded, or Dizzy
Feeling like you’re going to faint or actually fainting are both warning signs of a heart attack or other cardiac issue. This is especially worrying if it happens while exercising.

Sudden Sweating
Sudden sweating can easily be confused with night sweats or hot flashes. However, sweating that indicates a heart attack is particularly extreme, doesn’t go away, or can make it difficult to sleep.

Nausea or Vomiting
Often, women who experience nausea or vomiting think they have food poisoning, gastrointestinal issues, or a bug. However, these are common heart attack symptoms and should be taken very seriously.

Unusual Fatigue
New, unexplained fatigue may be a warning sign of a heart attack. However, fatigue can also be a symptom of many other issues, including anemia, depression, thyroid conditions, and even cancer. So even if it’s not a heart attack, it’s still important check in with your doctor.

Research suggests that women often don’t recognize heart attack symptoms simply because they don’t know what they are experiencing. The best thing a woman can do is make herself aware of heart attack symptoms and get checked out immediately if there is a concern.

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Pushing Past Loss

There are moments that shape us and upend our understanding of the world. Often, those experiences challenge us to grow in important, though painful, ways. Occasionally, I’ll see this with one of my patients as they push through the pain of a debilitating injury and work to return to their normal life. No matter the circumstances, we often emerge from these seemingly impossible situations as stronger, more empathetic people. We become more appreciative of our loved ones and are more invested in our everyday lives.

My first experience with true adversity came with the passing of my grandfather, which occurred in 1994, just as I was entering my freshman year as an undergraduate. It was my first real brush with death, and the loss of someone so important to me left me reeling. Following his passing, I went through one of the darkest periods of my life, and I was forced to make some tough decisions. In the end, the experience shaped me in meaningful ways, and I ultimately matured as a person.

When I was growing up, my family lived in the same apartment building as my grandparents, and we spent a lot of time with them. Every Thursday, they’d cook spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce for my brothers, my parents, and me, while Sundays were reserved for macaroni. They were like a second set of parents to me, always welcoming us with open arms. To say my grandfather was a character would be an understatement. He never received any formal education, and as a result, he couldn’t read or write. Instead, he had a shrewd street intelligence and drive that allowed him to hustle and grind his way through any situation. He was a gambler who would often hang out in local social clubs. When he met anyone new, he’d expertly work an angle on them and figure them out with just a glance or two. To me, though, he was just an incredible guy, always cracking hilarious jokes. Despite his mischievous side, he would definitely be the first person to give you the shirt off his back.

When he passed away, I was in my first semester at St. Peter’s College. I had never lost any family or anyone close to me, and his loss hit me harder than I could have imagined. Though up until that point I’d been a great student, my GPA began to plummet, and I started missing days of class, slipping into a kind of post-grief depression. As I considered the incredible man who was no longer a part of my life, I was forced to reckon with the way I saw the world, relying on my faith as a Catholic. Though I’d felt like a grown-up as I headed to college, I now felt like a little boy thrust into an adult situation. In the end, I decided that no matter what I was going through, I needed to process it and move forward. I transferred to Richard Stockton College, and that was the first significant adult decision I made. I wanted to do right by the memory of my grandfather, so I relied on the street smarts and perceptive vision that he’d taught me to propel my life and career forward.

Even now, long after my grandparents have passed, that experience sticks in my mind. My grandfather was an amazing person, and his passing taught me there are ways to push through adversity to transform your life for the better.

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What Exactly is Runner’s Knee?

The human leg is a delicate and incredible instrument, developed and slowly perfected over millions of years of evolution. But complication comes with a price: a heightened risk of injury. Our knees, especially, can succumb to any number of issues. Chief among them is patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee.

Normally, as you bend your knee, the patella, or kneecap, glides along the femoral groove, a track in our femur cushioned by cartilage. The muscles and ligaments of the leg work to keep the patella sliding normally along this groove. However, if something is amiss and the patella doesn’t ride normally through the track, it will begin to slide to the side. This forces the patella to rub and grind against the edges of the femur. As the problem worsens, it can irritate the joint, which results in kneecap pain and deterioration of the patellar surface.

According to PhysioWorks, approximately 25 percent of the American population experiences aching kneecaps at one time in their lives, but it’s even higher in athletes. Often, pain will begin after a period of overuse, like after ramping up training or performing high-intensity training. This is usually the result of a muscle imbalance and tightness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles. However, it can also arise from internal anatomical factors, such as naturally poor patellar tracking, improper foot posture, or weak hip control.

Patellofemoral pain is localized in and behind the kneecap, but it can cause swelling and pain that may spread throughout the structure. This pain is usually the worst after climbing hills or stairs, squatting, running, hopping, or sitting for long periods of time.

Patellofemoral pain is complicated and extremely common, and it can easily lead to more serious conditions such as patellar tendinitis or arthritis. Luckily, it’s usually treatable with careful exercise and physical therapy. Treatment often involves the initial mitigation of pain symptoms, followed by exercises that restore range of motion, a battery of stretches, and a muscle-strengthening regimen designed to even out any imbalances. After a few months of treatment, most patients are able to return to playing sports and living pain-free

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The Tangled History of President’s Day

On the third Monday in February, the entire nation celebrates President’s Day … sort of. While the holiday is known colloquially as President’s Day, its official federal name is still Washington’s Birthday. If that wasn’t confusing enough, different states officially know it as “President’s Day,” “Lincoln/Washington/President’s Day,” “Washington-Lincoln Day,” “George Washington Day,” and more. Let’s untangle how all these variant names came about and delve into the fascinating history of the holiday.

Washington was born on February 22, 1731. Given his incredible contribution to the founding of the United States, it’s understandable that a national holiday would be established to commemorate his legacy. The holiday was first established in 1879 for employees in Washington, D.C. Six years later, it was expanded to include all federal offices nationwide. And for the next century or so, nothing changed.

However, in 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This bill officially moved holidays that were once celebrated on specific dates, like Memorial Day and Columbus Day, to a particular Monday in a given month. This allowed for three-day weekends and, hopefully, encouraged retail sales with an extra day of shopping. But this, unintentionally, moved Washington’s birthday celebration to a day between his actual birthday and the birthday of another venerated president, Abraham Lincoln.

By the late 20th century, Lincoln’s reputation and legacy were as titanic as Washington’s. Because Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809,  any states found it appropriate to make the day a commemoration of two great presidents rather than just one. By the 1980s, “President’s Day” was the more widely acknowledged name, if not the official designation.

Why it hasn’t received a uniform federal name is anyone’s guess, but at least when you say “President’s Day,” everyone knows what you’re talking about. No matter what you call it, the day is a chance to celebrate some of the people who’ve made lasting contributions to our nation’s history. If you look at any presidential ranking, Washington and Lincoln are probably No. 1 and No. 2. It’s fitting, then, that we celebrate their birthdays in tandem.

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The Perfect Evening

How I Proposed to Lisa, My Incredible Valentine

With twins on the way in May, my wife, Lisa, and I have our hands full with the endless list of preparations that have to be made. It’s been a lot of fun and more than a little stressful getting everything ready for the two newest arrivals to our little family. But while we’ve been busy, with Valentine’s Day earlier this week, I always take a moment to take stock of everything she and I have built together. She’s the most beautiful, incredible woman I’ve ever met. I’m constantly amazed that she decided to spend her life by my side.

When Lisa and I started dating, it didn’t take me long to realize that she was absolutely the woman I wanted to marry. But though we lived together for a few years before I proposed, it just never seemed like the right time. As with anything in our relationship, I wanted to make sure it was perfect and that we were in the ideal stage to take this enormous step together. Luckily, she was patient, never pressuring, or demanding for a single second. We went at our own pace.

When I finally decided it was the perfect moment to pop the question, I embarked on one of the most extensive research missions I’ve ever done in my life, learning more about diamonds than I ever wanted to know. Once I had the ring in hand, I booked a weekend getaway for the two of us on the coast of Newport Rhode Island and called in reservations to the most amazing restaurant I could find in the area — again, after a ridiculous amount of research. As anybody who knows me will tell you, I’m the kind of guy who wants a special moment to go off perfectly, so the entire preparation for the night of the proposal was wildly stressful for me.

But when we arrived at the restaurant, The Spiced Pear at the Chanler Hotel, and saw our table overlooking the sea, my worries began to subside. The view was too incredible in the low glow of the ambient lighting to create anything but the ideal evening. After enjoying one of the most delicious meals we’d ever had, there was a lull in our enthusiastic conversation.

“You know, Michael,” Lisa said, smiling lightly. “This is just the perfect evening.”

“Well,” I said, slyly. “I might be able to make it a little bit more perfect.” I pulled the ring from my pocket, and got down on one knee.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now, I share a wonderful family — two kids with two more on the way — with the most phenomenal woman I could ever imagine. Today I can say that not only is she levelheaded, deeply intelligent, and strikingly beautiful, but she is the single greatest mother on the planet. Valentine’s Day wouldn’t mean anything without her constant warmth and love in my life.

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Are you ready?

Be Prepared for the Worst


First, I’d like to send positive thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We have all seen the devastation major storms can cause as witnessed with Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy to name just two examples.

A natural disaster may strike at any time. A tornado or earthquake can devastate entire cities in a matter of minutes. While these scary events are not pleasant to think about, it’s important to acknowledge the possibility of a disaster so we can better prepare. This week, we’re looking into what you need to know in order to prepare for a natural disaster.

How To Prepare

What do you need to do in case there’s a flood? How will your family survive if a hurricane strikes? Are you ready in the event of a wildfire? Disasters come in many forms, and the safety of yourself and your family may one day rely on how well you were able to plan today. Get ready before a disaster strikes with these comprehensive disaster preparedness steps.

10 Things You’re Not Doing To Prepare For Natural Disasters

Preparing for every disaster can be very overwhelming, and it can be easy to overlook important steps in the planning process. Does your family know where to meet if you get separated? Will your pets be allowed to stay at the nearest disaster shelter? Do you have enough emergency cash in case the power goes out? Take a moment and go through this checklist to make sure you’re completely prepared.

Steps To Save Yourself When Natural Disaster Hits

It’s one thing to have food stores and first-aid kits ready to go before a disaster, but it’s quite another to actually experience a disaster. In the heat of the moment, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is whether or not you have enough rechargeable batteries. Brush up on your survival strategies with this advice for getting out of any disaster in one piece.

Just For Fun: 9 Ways To Survive A Disaster Movie

Hollywood loves a good disaster movie. Films like “Dante’s Peak” or “2012” fill the box office every year, as directors think of new and exciting ways to destroy the world. While these scenarios are often unrealistic, when the credits roll, you can help but ask, “Would I be able to survive that?” This list offers great tips so you can survive even the worst Hollywood disaster movie.


To being prepared,

Dr. Michael Russo

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The Domino Effect of Neck Pain

Cervical and Shoulder Pain CaNeck Painn Cause Other Problems

One of the most common problems we treat at the New Jersey Institute of Balance is cervical pain, coupled with shoulder pain.

Poor posture, combined with a 9-to-5 desk job, leads to a breakdown in body structure. The head starts to lean forward, the shoulders become rounded, and the problem only gets worse. Pain will radiate from nerves in the displaced cervical disc, spreading into the rest of the neck, often moving all the way out into the shoulders and the upper back. If cervical problems are not
addressed early enough, it’s almost certain to lead to other problems, including permanent posture changes.

To see how poor posture can lead to other problems, try these two exercises:

  1. Sit in a chair, with your shoulder blades pulled back and down. Make sure your lower back is slightly arched and your eyes are looking forward and level. In this pose, raise your arms as high as you can, typically close to 160 degrees or even vertical.
  2. Now, sit with poor posture. Slouch your lower back and round your shoulders forward. Let your chin and eyes drop forward. In this pose, try to raise your arms overhead. Most people will
    experience at least a 60 degree decrease in range of motion when compared to the same exercise with good posture.

Poor posture is more than a nuisance. It can cause a domino effect of health issues throughout your body. Don’t let cervical pain or shoulder pain hinder your posture, leading to a long list of health issues.

Contact New Jersey Institute of Balance and schedule a free consultation today!

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The Wisdom of our Mentors

Two Teachers Who Changed My Life Forever

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been a dedicated student. I’d get home from school, and the first thing on my list for the evening would invariably be my homework. From fourth grade to my high school graduation, my parents never needed to intervene or encourage me to focus on my schoolwork or bring up my grades. Though they were always there to help me with anything I might need, I was mostly self-motivated when it came to class.

However, there are still those teachers who stick out in my memory, the ones who encouraged me to push myself to the limits of my capabilities, or gave me invaluable advice.

I remember one teacher I had in high school, Mrs. Butka, who taught geometry. I had an aptitude for math and science growing up, so right from the beginning of the semester, I began breezing through her assignments. One day at the end of class, she stopped me as I was leaving. “Oh, Michael,” she said, “Your homework is going to be different tonight.” Understandably, I was baffled. What did she mean? She started giving me tougher, more involved assignments than the rest of the class, forcing me to work ahead and do progressively more difficult proofs. I was never exactly bored with school, but the challenges Mrs. Butka threw at me every day were definitely a breath of fresh air. She was one of those teachers who kept reaching for new horizons. No matter how well I did on a test or assignment, she was always able to give me something to trip me up and keep me on my toes. With her, it wasn’t about completing a rote task, it was about excelling. That was a powerful lesson.

A little later in life, when I was at Stockton University, I met Mr. Smith. I was in his course, “Sports and Society,” basically on a whim. It was one of those general courses that you just have to fill in. Aside from it ending up being a fascinating, engaging course examining the way the world works while using sports as a lens for analysis and explanation, I’ll never forget a piece of advice he gave me at the beginning of the semester. After the first day of class, I went up to him, to let him know I was dedicated to pulling a good grade, asking for anything I could do to ensure a solid score in the class.

“What’s your GPA?” He asked.

“Not where it needs to be,” I replied. I was trying to get into PT school at the time.

He surprised me with what he said next. “Listen,” he said, sitting back in his chair. “We both know you have more opportunities than most people. You have some connections, some of those things that you can utilize to work your way through college, you’re fortunate enough to not have major student debt …” He paused. “Nothing is wrong with any of that. But remember, when you get to where you want to go, always look back and, if you see anybody struggling who didn’t have the opportunities you were given, use your resources to help them along in the process.”

It was one of those revelations that sticks with you for your entire life, that molds you at the fundamental level. I keep it in mind to this day. In fact, I actually stayed in touch with Mr. Smith for years, and even met his son, a successful attorney, years later.

Regardless of how self-motivated we may be, there will always be those who provide us with invaluable wisdom and push us further than we’d be able to go otherwise. Mr. Smith and Mrs. Butka are just two such people on a long list, but I’m incredibly grateful for everything they did for me — probably without even realizing it.

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build muscle

Race Your Rapid Metabolism

How to Build Muscle

build muscleBuilding muscle is an instrumental component of nearly all physical therapy patients’ recovery processes and a vital part of getting fit. But those with naturally fast metabolisms often struggle to gain muscle. Here are some tips to overcome that challenge.

Consume More Calories
You can have the best workout regimen in the world, but if you don’t eat enough, you won’t build even the smallest bit of muscle. Start off consuming the number of calories your body naturally expends — your current weight, multiplied by 18. Gradually increase this number every two weeks by multiplying your current weight by 20, then 22, and so on.

Eat High-Quality Foods
Calorie-dense foods, such as whole grains, nuts, dehydrated fruits, and nut butters, will aid in your quest to build muscle. Incorporating these foods into your diet is a lot easier than simply adding more food to your diet. Protein and complex carbohydrates are also key. Try to incorporate more lean beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, oatmeal, and healthy fats into your diet, as well.

Focus On Heavy Compound Lifts
A lower number of reps with heavier weights is most effective to spur muscle growth. Compound movements, like barbell squats, force you to challenge multiple muscle groups simultaneously, adding mass. Lift every other day, to give your muscles time to recover and add on muscle tissue.

Engage in Cardiovascular Exercise
Exercises, like jogging or swimming, strengthens your cardiovascular system, a vital part of the body, even if you’re focusing on adding muscle. While it shouldn’t be a main focus, it’s important not to cut it out completely, as cardiovascular exercise delivers vital nutrients to your muscles as they grow and develop.

Consult with NJIB to form a plan to build muscle.

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Work Out on the Road

The No-Equipment Workout

No Equipment WorkoutTo dedicated athletes, the thought of laying on a beach for a week during vacation sounds absurd. So what should you do when you have to leave your workout routine behind? Luckily, there’s a workout for you.

The Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout was created by Bobby Maximus, author of “Maximus Body.” While this workout is especially beneficial for endurance and strength athletes, anyone up a creek without a paddle — or in a hotel room without gym access — will find this workout helpful.

Maximus’ Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout involves a series of repeated lunges and wall-sits. Not only will this give you more stamina during a long run or ride, but you’ll also get rid of aches and pains. Even if you don’t have issues running now, you’ll prevent these issues down the road thanks to this workout.

Most strength athletes find themselves in a rut because they don’t do enough repetitions. This workout solves that problem. The number of repetitions increases your lower body strength and challenges you mentally too.

The Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout involves 40 alternating bodyweight lunges, followed by a 30-second wall-sit. Then, 38 alternating lunges, followed by another 30-second wall-sit. You reduce the number of lunges by two until you are down to two alternating lunges and a 30-second wall-sit. To get the most out of this workout, it’s recommended that you make it through the workout without resting.

You’ll find that a few reps into this Sore Legs, No Equipment Workout, your legs will be just that — sore. But it’s a great way to add variety into your normal workout routine and keep you at your strongest all summer long.

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