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What You Need to Know About Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. It’s estimated that yearly, about 697,000 Americans die from this condition. Sadly, that number has continued to rise over the years, which is why American Heart Month is recognized in February. Read on to learn more about keeping your heart healthy.

Defining Heart Disease

Heart disease is a term used to refer to any condition that affects the heart’s ability to function healthily. There are many types of heart disease, each with its own range of complications and treatments.

  • Coronary Artery Disease — this can lead to heart attacks or stroke if left untreated. It’s estimated that there are nearly 805,000 heart attacks each year, or about one every 40 minutes. Heart attacks can also be described as “silent.” Roughly one of every five heart attacks is classified as silent, meaning that damage is done to the heart without the individual knowing it.
  • Cardiomyopathy — the enlargement or weakening of the heart muscle causes this disease.
  • Arrhythmia — this is an abnormal heartbeat that can cause palpitations and extreme fatigue.
  • Valvular Heart Disease — this involves problems with the heart’s four valves resulting in improper blood flow.
  • Congenital Heart Disease — this occurs when there are defects in the structure of a person’s heart from birth.
  • Cardiogenic Shock — this occurs when the heart suddenly stops working properly and cannot pump enough oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

Heart Disease and Costs

Heart disease is a serious and costly threat to the health of Americans. Each year, more than $229 billion is spent annually on direct medical costs associated with heart disease in the U.S. This massive amount of money is due to the many visits to emergency rooms, hospitalizations, and medications needed for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this debilitating illness.

Heart disease can overpower lives and cause irreversible damage when treatments aren’t sought or successful in time. The costs associated with heart disease are alarming yet potentially avoidable if individuals take the necessary precautions.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Because heart disease is a significant health concern for many individuals, it is important to be aware of its risk factors. Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Smoking;
  • Having an unhealthy diet;
  • Being overweight or obese; and,
  • Having a sedentary lifestyle.

In addition, having high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure can also put someone at risk for developing heart disease.

Steps to Take to Prevent Heart Disease

A great way to start preventing heart disease is to make beneficial lifestyle changes such as:

  • Exercising regularly;
  • Eating more nutritious foods;
  • Maintaining a healthy weight;
  • Managing stress levels; and,
  • Quitting smoking (if you smoke).

Additionally, considering any family history of heart issues is essential so you can be sure to have screenings with your doctor regularly. Taking preventive measures and having regular doctor visits will help you stay informed about potential risks for developing heart disease and alert you if medical intervention is needed. These proactive steps will yield lifelong rewards for your health and well-being.

Ready for a Heart Health Screening?

Though heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., it doesn’t have to be. With regular screenings, a healthy lifestyle, and being aware of your risk factors, you can take steps to prevent heart disease. You don’t have to become a statistic with the right plan in place.

If you are concerned about your heart health or want a heart health screening, contact Pinnacle HealthCare. Our dedicated central coast California physicians are happy to help you on your journey to a healthy heart. Schedule an appointment today by contacting us online or by phone. (831) 387-7177