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Heart disease is no joke! This might not be surprising to hear, but you cannot live without your heart.
It all started innocently enough for Ashley. She went to her primary care physician complaining of dizziness and pain in her back. A quick ECG or electrocardiogram revealed a very fine and operational heart muscle. Still, being at an age where heart disease is considered a possibility and having several increased risk factors, her doctor decided that a trip to see the cardiologist was in order.
After all, she thought, how could there be a problem with my heart? I just carried several 50-pound boxes down three flights of stairs only a couple of weeks ago. Still, she thought it better to at least get a baseline so she could measure any change as she got older. And the fact that the dizziness did not go away was still troubling to her.“I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and health would have been different.”… Click To Tweet
Take A Stand Against Heart Disease
A healthy heart is central to overall good health. Embracing a healthy lifestyle at any age can prevent heart disease and lower your risk for a heart attack or stroke. You are never too old or too young to begin taking care of your heart
American Heart Month takes place every February to raise awareness for cardiovascular health. Heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths and is the worldwide leading cause of death. Every year, it kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.
Unfortunately, many people are regularly doing things that threaten the health of their hearts. You might not even be aware of the damage that you are doing.
Your heart is not like your elbow. It doesn’t ache if there’s something wrong. By the time you feel something, it is often too late. Taking care of your heart only makes sense. The best first step is to stop doing the things that damage your heart.
What is Heart Disease?
The term “heart disease,” a hot health topic today, refers to several types of heart conditions. The latest definition of heart disease is any disease that affects how the heart normally works. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is simply the narrowing or hardening of the arteries that lead to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.
Types of Heart Disease
Of course, this can encompass quite a few types or variations of heart disease.
Various types of heart disease include:
* Alcoholic Cardiomyopathy
* Aortic Regurgitation
* Aortic Stenosis
* Cardiogenic Shock
* Congenital Heart Disease
* Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
* Dilated Cardiomyopathy
* Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)
* Heart Failure
* Heart Tumor
* Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
* Idiopathic Cardiomyopathy
* Ischemic Cardiomyopathy
* Acute Mitral Regurgitation
* Chronic Mitral Regurgitation
* Mitral Stenosis
* Mitral Valve Prolapses
* Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
* Pulmonary Stenosis
* Stable Angina
* Unstable Angina
* Tricuspid Regurgitation
As you can see, there are many categories of what constitutes heart disease. Now that we have identified different types of cardiac disease, let us explore some of the symptoms of these diseases.
Heart Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of a developing heart problem can be both subtle and dramatic. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms can also signify other less dangerous conditions, and so a diagnosis of heart disease is often made later than it could have been. If you come across more than one of the symptoms below, then a trip to your doctor is highly advisable.
Breathlessness, when engaged in physical exercise, is normal to some extent for almost everyone. Yet, if you find you are becoming breathless more and more easily then this is a clear sign that your general fitness levels aren’t all they could be. Recognize that your heart may be struggling under the pressure.
Palpitations, that is a heavily or unevenly beating heart, can be a sign of anxiety or can come on after extreme exercise. But if neither of these situations applies then heart problems could well be the culprit.
A tingling feeling in bodily extremities such as fingers, toes, or lips is often a sign that your circulation system isn’t delivering enough oxygen, again a sign of possible heart problems. Should your extremities go on to develop a blueish color then this is certainly not a good sign, and medical attention should be sought at once.
The final and most obvious sign of cardiac problems is a feeling of tightness or pain in the chest, a condition known as angina. If you feel chest pain with any regularity, even if not particularly severe, a medical checkup is advisable to make sure you catch any problems as early as possible.
Angina can be controlled very well by medication in many cases and does not necessarily have to develop into full-blown heart disease.
Causes Of Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in most developed countries around the world, and the number of cases is rising constantly as a result of both modern lifestyles and increased overall longevity. Just as many different names for cardiac disease can be confusing and complicated, so can the causes of heart disease.
While developing, the condition can have a devastating impact on the sufferer’s life. Yet, modern medicine has developed several effective treatments for heart disease, ranging from drugs and lifestyle improvements right through to surgery.
However, we will simply highlight the most common causes below.
Briefly, here are some causes:
* Hypertension (“high blood pressure”)
* Heart valves that do not function normally
* Electrical conduction of the heart that causes an abnormal rhythm.
* Heart’s pumping function that is affected by toxins or infections.
* Congenital or “birth defects” of the heart.
Heart Disease in The United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths.
Heart disease cost the United States about $229 billion each year from 2017 to 2018. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.
Coronary Artery Disease
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 382,820 people in 2020.
- About 1 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 7.2%).
- In 2020, about 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.
- In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
- Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these,
- 605,000 are a first heart attack
- 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack
- About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.
Accordingly, I implore you to pay attention to the following behaviors to avoid damaging your heart and potentially prolonging your life.
Tips to Prevent Heart Disease
Living a healthy lifestyle can go a long way to reducing the chances of developing cardiac problems. Unfortunately, there is an element of inherited risk, so even those with excellent overall health may find that they’re genetically programmed towards heart disease in later life.
Thankfully, the greatest influence genetics has on heart disease is that of making us more susceptible to certain causes. Nevertheless, with careful adjustments of our lifestyles, we can greatly improve our prospects of avoiding it.
The two most deadly contributors to heart problems are smoking and obesity. Both can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels, putting extra strain on the heart. Smoking causes the build-up of fatty deposits within the arteries, also causing circulation problems. Being overweight also tends to mean that a healthy diet is not being followed. Consequently, the body may well be short of essential minerals and nutrients that the heart needs to keep on functioning healthily.
Stopping smoking and other unhealthy practices such as excessive drinking, along with improving diet and taking up exercise to reduce weight can go a long way towards averting problems.
Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so we will look at some of the ways you can help your body ward off the risks.
Be Aware of Snoring
Snoring can be harmless, but not all snoring is harmless. Sleep apnea can cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels. If you snore and never seem to be able to get enough sleep to feel refreshed, you might have sleep apnea.
You know that smoking is bad for you, but it might be even worse than you think. Smoking increases the likelihood of experiencing blood clots in your arteries. Smoking also increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure.
Reduce Anxiety And Stress
Worrying and stress also contribute to heart disease. The reason is not entirely clear. It has been suggested that anxiety and stress lead to the overeating of unhealthy comfort foods, smoking, and drinking. Inflammation is also a possible contributing factor.
Improve Poor Oral Hygiene
The bacteria in your mouth that thrive in plaque and tooth decay can cause inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis. Cavities and gum disease can be hard on your heart. Brush and floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist twice a year.
Control Your Weight
Obesity is hard on your body in general and on your heart specifically. Being overweight increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes. All these health issues present a challenge to your heart health.
- High blood sugar and high blood pressure damage the interior of your blood vessels. Cholesterol can then stick to those damaged areas. A heart attack or stroke is a common long-term result.
Stop Drinking Excessively
There have been studies that suggest that one drink each day might be beneficial. There are no studies that support drinking more than that. Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, an increase in your blood lipids, and even heart failure.
You Spend Too Much Time Sitting
Sitting for too long each day is bad for your heart and overall health. Avoid sitting for more than an hour before getting up and moving around for a while. Too much sitting increases the chances of suffering a heart attack.
Consuming Too Much Caffeine
For most people, it is not harmful to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine a day, the recommended daily limit. That is two cups of coffee. Caffeine increases heart rate and blood pressure. If you do eat or drink too much caffeine, it can cause health problems, such as restlessness, shakiness, and Insomnia.
Ignoring Symptoms of A Heart Condition
If you suffer from chest pain during physical exertion, you might have a heart condition. The other common sign is the inability to catch your breath for an extended period of time or after light activity. See your doctor if you have either of these symptoms.“Do your part, care for your heart.” Click To Tweet
Final Thoughts on Heart Disease
How many of the habits above apply to you? What are you prepared to do to ensure that you are not guilty of any of the behaviors on this list in the future?
What do you do when the Cardiologist says you have heart disease?
As you can see, cardiovascular disease is one that while complicated and intricate in name and causes, is simply devastating to both the individual and to the society that the affected comes from. It should be taken very seriously and not ignored. Therefore, education and prevention are essential in decreasing the effects of these diseases, commonly known as cardiac or heart disease.
People must develop a healthy lifestyle to have a longer and healthier life. Healthy living will make them fit, and energetic and reduce the risk of getting chronic diseases. Ensure that you practice healthy living such as consuming well-balanced and healthy meals, do exercise daily, and having adequate sleep.
Sure, lifestyle changes are particularly challenging. These habits are deeply ingrained and can be remarkably stubborn to change. However, simply pick just one to start and give it your full attention. Over time, you can eliminate all these habits and give yourself the best chance to have a long, healthy life.