What is heart disease?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 600000 Americans die of heart disease each year. That is one in every four deaths in the United States alone. The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type is coronary artery disease which can cause heart attack. Other kinds of heart disease may involve the valves in the heart or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure. Some people are born with heart disease.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms vary depending on the type of heart disease. For many people chest discomfort or a heart attack is the first sign. Someone having a heart attack may experience several symptoms including chest pain or discomfort that does not go away after a few minutes. Pain or discomfort in the jaw or neck or back may be symptoms of heart disease. Weakness or light headedness and nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) or a cold sweat may also be associated with heart disease. Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder and shortness of breath are also symptoms.
How is heart disease diagnosed?
Your doctor can perform several tests to diagnose heart disease including chest X-rays orcoronary angiograms or electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG) and exercise stress tests.
Can it be prevented?
You can take several steps to reduce your risk for heart disease including not smokin,g and maintain a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet and regular exercise. What also helps with hearth disease prevention is treating other health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
How is it treated?
Lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for complications. Your doctor also may prescribe medication to treat the disease. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to reduce your heart disease risk.