Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.
Sometimes heart disease may be "silent" and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrythmia. When these events happen, symptoms may include:
Heart attack: Check pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
Heart Failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
What causes coronary artery disease?
CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries) and other parts of the body.
Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis
High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of people in the United States (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors.2 Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including
Overweight and obesity
Excessive alcohol use
Cardiac rehabilitation (rehab) is an important program for anyone recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, or some types of heart surgery. Cardiac rehab is a supervised program that includes
Education about healthy living, including healthy eating, taking medicine as prescribed, and ways to help you quit smoking
Counseling to find ways to relieve stress and improve mental health
A team of people may help you through cardiac rehab, including your health care team, exercise and nutrition specialists, physical therapists, and counselors or mental health professionals.
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. You can choose healthy habits to help prevent heart disease such as:
Choose Healthy Foods and Drinks: Choose healthy meals and snacks to help prevent heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods.
Maintain a healthy weight: People with overweight or obesity have a higher risk for heart disease. Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.
Get Regular Physical Activity: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity every day.
Don't Smoke: Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
Take Charge of Your Medical Conditions: If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, you can take steps to lower your risk for heart disease.
Consult a doctor for medical advice or visit us at PEOPLE CARE INSTITUTE for more information
Note: The information you see here is general and describes what usually happens with a medical condition, but doesn't apply to everyone. This information IS NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, so please make sure to contact a healthcare provider if you have a medical problem.