Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, accounting for almost 1 out of every 4 deaths. Despite its prevalence, heart disease is both controllable and preventable.
Heart disease is often caused by lifestyle choices, including inactivity and poor eating habits. Other risk factors, such as family history or age, are also taken into consideration and are more difficult to control.
Even taking small steps can help in preventing and controlling heart disease. This article will articulate what heart disease is, and what the common symptoms are, as well as things you can do to protect your own heart health.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease, often used interchangeably with the term cardiovascular disease, can describe many different conditions that affect the heart. These include:
- Disease of blood vessels
- Example: Narrowed or blocked vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke
- Heart rhythm problems
- Example: Irregular heart beat called Arrhythmia
- Heart infections
- Usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites that may enter the bloodstream
- Heart defects
- Can develop in children and adults due to changes in the hearts structure
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About half of the adults in the U.S. have at least one of the three risk factors.
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
What are the major symptoms of heart disease or a heart attack?
Heart disease can be difficult to notice before it becomes a significant health risk. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 9-11 or go to the Emergency Room immediately.
Heart disease symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeats (or a flip-flopping feeling)
- Dizziness or Weakness
Heart attack symptoms:
- Pain or pressure in your chest
- Pain or heaviness in your arm
- Pain or discomfort in your jaw, neck and back
- Dizziness, Lightheadness or Weakness
- Shortness of Breath
What is Heart Disease Prevention?
Heart disease is frequently, but not always, caused by lifestyle choices. Regardless of whether you have a predisposition to developing heart disease, living a heart-healthy life is best preventive measure to take.
Lifestyle strategies to help prevent heart disease or reduce your risks factors include:
- Regular exercise
- Eating a heart healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting regular health screenings
- By knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels you can keep them under control
- Quit smoking
What is Heart Disease Treatment?
Depending on the severity of a heart condition, physicians often recommend starting with a strict regimen of the five strategies above.
More advanced treatments may include:
- To lower your blood pressure or cholesterol
- To correct heart rhythms
- To thin the blood
- Medical procedures or surgeries
- Catheter procedures, used to insert stents or balloons, help to open up blocked vessels
- Artery bypasses are used to re-route blood flow
- Pacemakers can be inserted to regulate the heartbeat
- Valve repairs or replacement can be used to remove damaged heart tissue
- In severe cases, heart transplants may be an option
It is best to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. Also, be sure to see a healthcare provider to learn more about your heart health. Whether you are interested in prevention or need treatment, a health professional will be able to guide you to the best strategy for you to live a long, healthy life!