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Wednesday, February 06, 2013
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack and about 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year. These CDC statistics indicate that every 1 out of 4 deaths is related to heart disease (1).
Heart disease actually refers to over 50 types of heart conditions,each one affecting different areas of the heart and/or the blood vessel system within it (2). The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease(CAD), which is a result of plaque build-up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. CAD can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure and arrhythmias. Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke, attributing to the leading causes of disability in America (1).
As there are so many types of heart disease, it is very important to know the symptoms of a heart attack, both typical and atypical (1)(3).
Heart disease can be preventable and controllable. Just as it is important to be aware of the symptoms, it is also critical to good health to know the risk factors of heart disease. Some risk factors can be controlled, some cannot. According to information on heart disease from www.active.com and the American Heart Association, risk factors include:
- Chest pain or discomfort, described as the feeling of pressure, or fullness that can radiate up to the jaw or down the left arm
- Shortness of breath (with or without chest pain)
- Cold sweat, light-headedness
- Pain or discomfort in upper back, abdomen, arms, shoulder, neck or jaw
- Flu-likesymptoms: nausea with vomiting
Even small changes to lifestyle may control many of these risk factors. Several of the risk factors of heart disease influence one another and can all be controlled by implementing the following changes. To control blood pressure, it is recommended by the CDC to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and keep sodium intake to a minimum. Avoid fatty foods and excess calories; eat foods low in saturated, trans fat and cholesterol and high in fiber. Changing eating habits can also lend to weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight is critical to a healthy heart. Having a healthy body mass index (BMI) is good indicator of a healthy weight. Regular, moderate to vigorous exercise is also key to lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight, all of which are controllable risk factors for heart disease(1,3,4).
- Family history. A family history of early heart disease (under 55 for males and females under 65)(3).
- Age. Your risk increases with age, especially for women after menopause, though pre-menopausal women have a significantly lower risk factor than men of equal age (3).
- Race. African-American women have the highest risk (3).
- Diabetes. Diabetics are three to seven time more likely to die from heart disease (3).
- Hypertension. High blood pressure leads to heart disease and heart failure (3).
- Elevated cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. Act as a triple threat to your heart:cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, low risk LDL less than 160 mg/dL and triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL (4).
- Tobacco smoke. Smokers’ risk is two to four times that of non-smokers (4).
- Physical inactivity. Regular, at least moderate, activity helps to prevent heart and blood vessel disease (4).
- Excessive Weight. Those who are obese or overweight are more likely to develop heart disease even with no other risk factors (4).