Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, causing about 647,000 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means it causes 1 in 4 of all deaths.
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE?
Heart disease is a term used to refer to several different types of heart conditions. Out of all the different conditions, coronary artery disease—caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the heart’s arteries—is the most common. Other common forms include:
- Heart failure
- Valvular disease
- Aortic aneurysms
- Congenital heart defects
Heart disease is often used interchangeably with cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease typically refers to heart conditions that involve blocked or narrowed blood vessels, which can lead to chest pains, stroke and heart attacks.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The symptoms can vary, and some people may not even know they have a heart condition until they have a heart attack. Common signs and symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, heart palpitations, weakness and fatigue.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS?
Treatment for heart disease will vary on a case-by-case basis. The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms, control or reduce risk factors, stop or slow further damage to the arteries, and prevent and treat cardiac events. Treatment includes several options:
- Self-care and prevention
- Procedures to open blocked or narrowed arteries, or to bypass them
- Cardiac rehabilitation
WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR DEVELOPING HEART DISEASE?
There are certain uncontrollable factors that increase your risk of heart disease, including age, sex and family history. Generally speaking, those with a family history of heart disease, men and older people have a higher risk of developing a heart condition. However, other factors that increase your risk, such as stress, inactivity, obesity, diabetes, smoking and a poor diet, are controllable.
IS IT PREVENTABLE?
In many cases, heart disease can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and properly managing health conditions. Here are tips that may help prevent heart disease:
- Get regular medical check-ups.
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Take medications as prescribed.
- If you are at a higher risk, ask your doctor about low-dose aspirin therapy.
- Watch for signs of diabetes and see your doctor if you have any symptoms.
- Follow a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.
- Limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day.
- Exercise regularly.
- Manage stress by practicing relaxation techniques.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. Check with your doctor to find out if and how much you should drink.
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE?
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For more information about heart disease, please contact your doctor. For assistance finding a doctor or other services with your TSHBP medical plan, contact your Care Coordinator at (888) 803-0081.