February is American Heart Month

Heart disease and the conditions that can lead up to it can happen at any age. While it is commonly thought of as a problem in older adults, it is actually happening in younger adults more and more often. Why is this happening? Partly because the conditions that lead up to heart disease are happening at younger ages. Conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure among younger adults (ages 35-64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life.

About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. It’s the leading cause of death in both men and women. The term “heart disease” or “cardiovascular disease” is the term of all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels. This includes coronary heart disease (buildup of plaque inside the coronary arteries, which can cause heart attacks), stroke, congenital heart defects (problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth), and peripheral artery disease (build up of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs, and limbs).

Plaque is a waxy substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances, that are found in the bloodstream. Plaque can build up in your arteries thereby reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood getting to your heart. Plaque can lead to blood clots, which block blood flow and are the most common cause of a heart attack.

A heart attack or a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow. Time is of the essence during a heart attack. The more time that passes without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart.

You should know the five major signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

Men and women can have varying signs and symptoms. Some experience no symptoms, while other experience all the symptoms above. Women are more likely to describe the cheat pain as sharp and burning and more frequently have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen, or back.

Remember, if you notice these symptoms of a heart attack in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.

Risk factors:

 

Preventing Heart Disease:

 

○ Eating a healthy, balanced diet

○ Maintaining a healthy weight

○ Getting enough physical activity

○ Not smoking or using other forms of tobacco

○ Limiting alcohol use

○ Don’t smoke

○ Manage conditions

 

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/heart_attack.htm\

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/signs_symptoms.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month/learn-more-about-heart-disease

https://stanfordhealthcare.org/stanford-health-now/2016/preventing-heart-disease.html

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