When you hear the word "heart disease" or "heart attack," what is your first thought? You may think, "that won't happen to me." According to the American Heart Association, Heart Disease is the No.1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. That's approximately one woman every minute! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 321,000 men in 2013-that's 1 in every 4 male deaths.
In this article, you will find facts and information to increase your awareness and understanding of Heart Disease.
Heart Disease, often called coronary heart disease, includes a number of conditions that impact the heart and blood vessels.
Risk Factors that Influence Heart Health
Heart disease can be attributed to lifestyle factors that increase our risk.
- Atherosclerosis (most common cause) – condition develops when plaque builds up in the walls and narrows the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart.
- High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
- High Cholesterol
- Eating Behaviors
- Family History
Blood Pressure – “Hypertension” or “Silent Killer”
People with high blood pressure often have no symptoms. 1 in 3 American adults has high blood and are unaware. Recent changes to blood pressure readings has been released by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. Blood pressure readings are now defined as:
- Normal: less than 120 (systolic/top number) over less than 80 (diastolic/lower number)
- Elevated: 120-129 over less than 80
- High Blood Pressure Stage 1: 130-139 over 80-89
- High Blood Pressure Stage 2: 140 or higher over 90 or higher
- Hypertensive Crisis: Higher than 180 over higher than 120
Be aware of your blood pressure readings!
Warning Signs of Heart Attack
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that “every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.” Knowing the signs of a heart attack are important and can save your life. Common heart attack warning signs as stated by the American Heart Association:
- Pain or discomfort in chest
- Lightheadedness, nausea, or vomiting
- Jaw, neck, or back pain
- Discomfort or pain in the arm or shoulder
- Shortness of breath
Be familiar with conditions or habits that increase your likelihood of developing this disease. Here are lifestyle changes to think about: don’t smoke, manage your blood sugar, control you blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, know your family’s health history, exercise, lose weight, and eat right.
There is great news though, you can take action now! Making even small changes to our lifestyle choices and habits can improve our heart health and decrease risk factors for Heart Disease.
- American Heart Association - Heart Attack Symptoms
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Heart Disease Facts
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet
- Go Red for Women – Facts about Heart Disease for Women
- National Institute of Health – The Heart Truth for African American Women
- Purdue Extension – Be Heart Smart Program