What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is an umbrella term for a number of diseases which affect the heart. It is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing one person every 34 seconds.
Some common forms of heart disease include:
- Coronary heart disease - disease of the artery caused by the accumulation of plaques within the artery walls
- Cardiomyopathy - deterioration of the heart muscle for any reason
- Cardiovascular disease - a group of diseases that affect the heart and/or the vascular system
- Ischaemic heart disease - a disease of the heart characterized by reduced blood supply to the organs
- Heart failure (congestive heart failure or congestive cardiac failure) - a condition that results from a structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to fill with or pump a sufficient amount of blood
- Hypertensive heart disease - heart disease caused by high blood pressure
- Inflammatory heart disease - disease which causes inflammation of the heart muscle and/or its surrounding tissues
- Valvular heart disease - disease which affects one or more valves of the heart
Am I at Risk for Heart Disease?
There are many factors that influence your risk of heart disease, some you have control over and some you don't. Common risk factors include:
- Gender (men are at higher risk, although it's the most common killer of women as well)
- Family history of heart disease
- Race (African Americans, American Indians and Mexican Americans are at higher risk)
- High LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol)
- Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Physical inactivity
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High creactive protein
- Uncontrolled stress and anger
Reducing Your Heart Disease Risk
Some people will naturally have a higher risk of heart disease than others. But you are not powerless against it. Here are some ways you can reduce your heart disease risk:
- Quit smoking
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Control high blood pressure
- Control diabetes
- Get active
- Eat right
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
Most importantly, call 911 if you think it's a life-threatening situation or contact a medical professional if you have adiditional questions about heart disease, or think you might be experiencing heart attack symptoms.