The Facts About Heart Disease
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease among Americans is coronary artery disease (CAD) which affects blood flow to the heart. When blood flow is decreased, it can cause a heart attack.
Heart disease is famous for being silent. You may be totally unaware that you have a heart condition until you experience the symptoms of a heart event.
How to recognize the symptoms of heart disease
- Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Arrythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest or palpitations.
- Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or neck veins.
What’s your risk for heart disease?
Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. But even if heart disease runs in your family, it isn’t inevitable. While you may not be able to control your age or genetics, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by committing to a healthy lifestyle.
Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
- Monitor blood pressure. The only way to know if you have elevated or high blood pressure is to measure it regularly. It can be lowered with lifestyle changes or medications.
- Manage blood cholesterol. High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. A simple blood test called a lipid profile can measure your cholesterol levels.
- Control diabetes. Adults with diabetes are more likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t. Work with your physician to prevent or manage your diabetes.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is linked to high cholesterol and can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Make a plan with your doctor to drop dangerous extra pounds.
- Stop smoking. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes negatively impact the functionality of your heart and blood vessels, which leads to a build-up of plaque in your heart arteries.
- Stay active. Take a fitness class, go for a walk, do yoga, ride a bike – as little as 10 minutes a day of physical activity can deliver positive health benefits.
- Choose healthy foods. Good nutrition helps your cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and weight. Plus, when you eat better, you’ll feel better.
- Limit alcohol. Having more than two drinks per day for men and one per day for women can increase your risk of high blood pressure and obesity – which can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Relax. Managing stress in a healthy way is important to your mental health and your heart health.
Sources: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention