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Understanding Heart Disease

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Heart disease is a very serious problem in the United States. Each year, over 600,000 people die of heart disease each year. It is the leading cause of death in men and women. Because heart disease is such a serious problem, it is important that you know what causes the disease and ways that you can prevent it.

What is Heart Disease

There are a few types of heart disease and if not caught in time, they can be fatal. The types of heart disease include:

  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heart rhythm (Arrhythmia)
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Heart valve disease
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Congenital heart failure
  • Enlarged heart (Cardiomegaly)
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive Cardiomyopathy
  • Pericarditis
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Heart murmurs

What are the Symptoms of Heart Disease

The symptoms of heart disease can differ, depending on the type that you are suffering from. Overall, however, most of the symptoms are alike, making it difficult to tell what is wrong unless you see a doctor. Also, it is important to understand that heart disease can present very differently in men than in women. Some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Heart palpitations (A fluttering or flip flopping in your chest. You could also feel as though you are skipping heartbeats.)
  • A strong pounding feeling in the chest
  • Pain, pressure, or tightening in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

There are certain risk factors that make it more likely for one person to suffer from heart disease than another person. These risk factors include:

  • Sex (Males are more likely to develop heart disease than females)
  • Old age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Post-menopausal women
  • Race (Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and American Indians are more likely to develop heart disease than Caucasians)
  • Smokers and tobacco product users
  • Individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and low LDL (good cholesterol)
  • People who are physically inactive
  • Obesity (and individual who is 20 percent over their ideal weight)
  • Excessive drinking
  • Recreational drug use
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Uncontrolled stress
  • Uncontrolled anger

How To Lower the Risk of Developing Heart Disease

If you have a risk factor for developing heart disease, there are a few things that you can do and changes that you can make to reduce your risk. Some of these include:

  • Quit smoking: Smokers have more than twice the risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers.
  • Improve your cholesterol levels: You can improve your cholesterol levels by changing your diet. If that doesn’t work, your doctor can prescribe medication.
  • Control your blood pressure: You can control your blood pressure through diet, exercise, and weight management. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe medication.
  • Keep your diabetes under control.
  • Achieve a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
  • Become more active by walking or exercising.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt, cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat, and refined sugars. Introduce more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains to your diet.
  • Manage your stress and anger: Poorly controlled stress and anger can be treated with relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and massage. You can also try to manage your time better and set realistic goals to reduce your stress. An anger management class can help you control your anger.
  • Quit drinking: Seek professional help if necessary.
  • Quit doing recreational drugs; Seek professional help if necessary.

Heart disease is a leading killer in the United States. If you know the risk factors for heart disease, you can start trying to make changes to live a healthier life.

 

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