By: Kelsey Davis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four deaths in the United States are a result of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that it can be prevented with healthy choices and condition management. February is American Heart Month and to celebrate, we want to make sure you’re educated in the different types of heart diseases, causes, symptoms, and prevention.
Types of Heart Disease and Symptoms
Heart disease is also called cardiovascular disease. The most common types of cardiovascular disease include:
- High Blood Pressure
When your blood pressure levels exceed 130/80, blood is forced against your artery walls. This can lead to other heart conditions or stroke. There are often no symptoms. It’s important to visit the doctor regularly and monitor your blood pressure.
- Coronary Artery Disease
An unusual amount of plaque buildup in your coronary arteries causes them to narrow. This limits the amount of blood flow to your heart. Some people may not experience symptoms, however, others may have chest pain or even suffer from a heart attack.
- Cardiac Arrest
Cardiac arrest is a sudden and unexpected loss of heart function and consciousness. This is usually a result of an electrical disturbance in your heart. The main symptom is unconsciousness and inability to respond.
- Congestive Heart Failure
This is a condition where your heart doesn’t pump blood as well it should. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, tiredness, swollen legs, and a rapid heartbeat.
An arrhythmia occurs when electrical impulses in your heart do not work and result in an improper beating of your heart. Some people may not notice any symptoms, however, others may experience chest pain, fainting, or dizziness.
A blocked artery or leaking blood vessel can cause a stroke. This causes damage to your brain because the blood supply was interrupted. Symptoms include difficulty walking, speaking, and understanding. Plus, you may experience numbness in your face, arm, or leg.
- Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when blood flow is blocked from the heart muscle and is typically a result of blood clots. Symptoms include pain in your chest, back, neck, or arms, plus fatigue, an abnormal heartbeat, and anxiety.
Your lifestyle choices and other medical conditions can put you at a higher risk of heart disease. People who are overweight, have a poor diet, drink alcohol in excess, and lack daily physical activity are more likely to develop heart disease. Plus, there are several medical conditions that can increase your risk, including:
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid disease
- Damaged heart valves
- Heart infections
- Heart defects
- Various viruses
- Allergic reactions
- Blood clots
- Certain medications (ask your doctor)
There are several steps you can take to lower your chance of developing heart disease including:
- Stop Smoking
Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. This can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. Your risk increases with the amount you smoke, but your risk can lower one year after quitting.
Exercising is great for your heart and can help control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. In general, you should exercise 30 minutes a day. If you cannot work out for an extended period, break them up into three periods of ten minutes. Plus, small activities like taking the stairs, walking the dog, and housekeeping can count towards your daily total.
- Healthy Diet
A healthy diet helps protect your heart and makes sure you have the nutrients you need. Try to maintain a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Plus, avoid excess amounts of salt and sugars.
- Quality Sleep
Sleep deprivation is often overlooked and can cause harm to your overall health. If you don’t get enough sleep, your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, and diabetes increases. This can lead to heart disease in the future.
- Manage Stress
Stress can cause you to overeat, drink, or smoke. It’s important to manage your stress and respond in healthy ways. For example, physical activities, relaxation exercises, and meditation are healthy stress management practices.
- Health Screenings
Health screenings can bring attention to issues within your body you may have otherwise overlooked. These screenings can include blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes tests. You can lower your risk by addressing these issues as soon as possible.
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