Heart disease is so common in the United States that it’s become casual. This can be extremely dangerous, considering heart disease kills more people in this country than any other illness or disease. It’s not something to take lightly.
Our team at Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute, led by cardiologist Hesham Fakhri, MD, sees heart disease make its ravaging rounds every day, month, and year.
This information isn’t meant to be scary, but to inform you about the risks of heart disease and encourage you to adopt healthy habits that can prevent this deadly condition. With that, here are five facts you should know about heart disease.
1. Heart disease is the leading killer among Americans
Heart disease kills more people than cancer in the United States each year. To put the commonality of heart disease in perspective:
- One person dies from heart disease every 37 seconds
- Nearly 650,000 Americans die from heart disease each year
- Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the US.
2. Heart disease includes much more than heart attacks
Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes several diseases of the cardiovascular system. Heart disease includes:
- Coronary artery disease (the most common form of heart disease)
- Peripheral artery disease
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
3. Heart disease risk factors matter
If you smoke, avoid exercise, eat an unhealthy diet, experience chronic stress, or drink a lot of alcohol, your risk of heart disease skyrockets — and you shouldn’t disregard these risk factors.
The research is clear: Approximately half of all adults with heart disease have at least one risk factor. The more risk factors you have, the higher your likelihood of developing heart disease.
4. Women are more likely to misinterpret heart attack signs
It’s not uncommon for doctors to misdiagnose heart attacks in women. This likely occurs because women report non-chest symptoms more often than men do.
For women, heart attack signs can include indigestion, lightheadedness, cold sweats, back pain, jaw pain, and nausea — not typically things that most people associate with a heart attack.
5. Heart disease prevention and treatment
Yes, heart disease is serious, and yes, you shouldn’t take it lightly. But there’s certainly hope for prevention and treatment of heart disease. Prevention measures include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Managing stress
- Getting enough sleep
- Limiting alcohol
- Avoiding smoking or quitting if you already smoke
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Controlling blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol
Treatment for heart disease depends on what type of heart disease you have, but many doctors prescribe lifestyle interventions such as the above for early-stage heart disease. If you have advanced heart disease, you may need medications, monitoring, or surgery.
To learn more about heart disease, visit our FAQ page on heart disease or come in for a visit. Call us for an appointment at our office in Tampa or Wesley Chapel, Florida. You can also request an appointment by using our online tool.