It’s American Heart Month. February is designated as American Heart Month to advocate cardiovascular health and raise awareness about heart disease. This is the perfect time to learn more about your heart, how to take care of it, and how to detect signals of cardiovascular disease. At the beginning of each year, we all make resolutions to eat healthier, be more active, but at the center of it all is our heart. Let’s take a moment to think about what we can do to keep our heart healthy.
What Is Heart Disease?
The most common form of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become hardened and narrowed due to a buildup of cholesterol, known as plaque. CAD can lead to health issues such as heart attack, heart failure, angina (chest pain), stroke, and irregular heartbeat.
Facts About Heart Disease
Every year, one in four people will die from heart disease. Heart disease can strike anyone, but certain individuals may be more at risk than others. Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor diet
- Inactive lifestyle
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Heart disease is still the main source of death in the United States. In fact, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the world. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many of these deaths would have been preventable with proper preventative care.
Knowing The Symptoms Of Heart Disease
While there are several different forms of heart disease, they share common symptoms and warning signs. It’s important to learn these symptoms to receive a prompt diagnosis and medical treatment. Symptoms of an emergency may include:
- Chest pain, discomfort or an uncomfortable pressure in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the upper body, arms, back, neck, jaw or upper stomach
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
- Sweating; or cold sweats
- Weakness, light-headedness, feeling faint or dizzzy
- Feeling very full or having indigestion
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- An irregular heartbeat, palpitations, or increased heart rate
How You Can Help To Prevent Heart Disease
Risk factors often develop as you age; things such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease. There are many ways to keep your heart in great shape, even as you age.
You can keep your heart healthy no matter how old you are, by making changes in your everyday habits. Here’s how to get started:
- Get enough exercise
- Quit smoking
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Get regular check-ups to monitor health conditions
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Watch your weight
- Get better sleep
- Reduce stress factors