You’re probably familiar with heart disease as a leading killer of both adult women and men, accounting for over 600,000 deaths in the United States each year. Your heart is central to your health, since your body depends on blood flow for nourishment and fuel. Heart disease isn’t a single condition either, but rather a collection of diseases that can affect or stop the operation of your heart.
Despite the familiarity of heart disease as a health risk, you might not be aware of some important facts surrounding it. The more you know and understand about your heart and the risks to its health, the better chance you have of seeking prompt medical attention when a heart attack or stroke occurs. Responding quickly to such an event increases your chances of surviving with fewer long-term complications.
Nearly half of all Americans have heart disease risk factors
If you have diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or if you smoke, you’re one of between 47% and 49% of Americans with major heart disease risk factors. High blood pressure takes a toll on the walls of your arteries, with risk increasing over time.
Too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad form of serum cholesterol, can block your arteries with fatty deposits. Tobacco smoke also contributes to the buildup of arterial blockages and the deterioration of artery health.
However, these aren’t the only conditions that elevate your chances of developing heart disease. Other risk factors include:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Poor diet and eating habits
- Carrying extra body weight and obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle
Most people don’t know all the signs of a heart attack
While most people associate chest tightness and pain as a heart attack symptom, it’s not the only symptom. In fact, women, diabetics, and older people can experience a heart attack without any discomfort in their chests at all. This may contribute to the 47% of deaths from heart disease away from a hospital or medical care, since people may not act on other symptoms.
As well as chest pain, other symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the arms, back, jaw, neck, or stomach
- Sudden cold sweats
- Sudden weakness
- Heart palpitations
If you’re at higher risk of heart disease, carry 325 milligram aspirin tables with you. Chewing one at the onset of heart attack symptoms can help dissolve clots that may be blocking your arteries.
Deaths from heart disease are falling
Here’s some good news about heart health. Over the past few decades, treatment methods and prevention have contributed to a 60% fall in deaths from heart-related problems. The number of smokers has dropped dramatically nationwide, relieving the health care system of a huge burden brought on by tobacco smoke.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are more effectively controlled with medication and lifestyle change. There’s even long-term hope that heart disease may one day be a disease of the past.
If you have one or more of the risk factors for heart disease, having a cardiac exam is a good idea, even if you’re not showing any symptoms at this time. You can make an appointment with Dr. Bokhari, Dr. Popa-Radu, and the team at Advanced Cardiovascular Care. Call or use the convenient online booking tool to arrange an appointment today.