Cardiovascular Disease

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Americans are urged to fight against heart disease through awareness and education, especially including how the disease can be prevented.

There are many risk factors for heart disease that you cannot control such as age, heredity, and race. However, there are risk factors that you can modify or treat to prevent heart disease.

Smoking can double your risk of developing heart disease, and is the most preventable risk.

Obesity and physical inactivity are also very preventable. Excessive weight can put unnecessary strain on the heart and can also make other treatable risk factors even worse.

Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are some risk factors that are otherwise treatable.

Excessive alcohol intake can also make these risk factors worse.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a key factor in preventing heart disease. This includes routine physical exercise and a proper diet.

Eat a heart-healthy diet that is low in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and refined sugars. Try to increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins and other nutrients, especially antioxidants, which have been proven to lower your risk for heart disease. Also, eat plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.

According to the American Heart Association, most people should try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. For example, walking is exercise, and is attainable. Be sure to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

Even if you are practicing many of the healthy habits above, you should still be aware of the risk factors of coronary artery disease and heart attacks.

Coronary arteries are those blood vessels that supply your heart with blood and oxygen. When there is a buildup of fatty deposits—or plaque—which may cause blockage, this is called coronary artery disease. This can lead to a heart attack.

Symptoms may vary and could include the following:
• Discomfort, pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest, arm, or below the breastbone
• Rapid or irregular heartbeats
• Discomfort radiating to the back, jaw, throat, or arm
• Fullness, indigestion, or choking feeling (may feel like heartburn)
• Shortness of breath
• Sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness

If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 for emergency help. Do not delay, and do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Immediate treatment for a heart attack is crucial to prevent further damage to your heart.

It is essential that you and your physician assess your risk for heart disease and make a strategy concerning how to prevent it. Consult your physician and implement your action plan for living with a healthy heart.

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