Your heart is vital for your overall health. If it doesn’t work properly, you could become gravely ill. Certain factors that affect your heart health aren’t changeable, while some lifestyle modifications help greatly reduce your risk for heart problems.
But how do you know for sure what your risk of developing heart disease is?
At the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute, we help you figure out your chances of developing heart disease down the road. Dr. Hesham Fakhri, our board-certified cardiologist, helps patients navigate a heart disease diagnosis, but he also explains how you can avoid this diagnosis if you’re at risk.
What is heart disease?
Your heart is made up of chambers and valves that allow oxygenated blood to pump to your body. If one small component of your heart is compromised, it leads to problems like a heart attack or heart disease.
So what exactly is heart disease? This condition is a broad diagnosis that encompasses many different heart problems. Coronary artery disease is one of the most prevalent types of heart disease, but there are other types that include:
- Heart defects
Heart disease is also sometimes related to infections in your heart, which could be caused by bacteria or viruses that enter your body and get into your bloodstream.
Heart disease isn’t something you want to mess around with, so knowing your risk may save your life down the road.
Symptoms of heart disease
This condition has a lot of different symptoms and is dependent on which type of heart disease you have. Men and women could have different symptoms, but anybody could experience one or more of the following symptoms with heart disease:
- Chest pressure or tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Extremity swelling
You could also experience pain in your jaw, neck, or back and have weakness or numbness in your arms and legs. Any of these symptoms could be a sign of a problem with your heart, such as a heart attack or a blocked artery from atherosclerosis.
Are you at risk?
Unfortunately, genetics do play a role in your chance of developing heart disease. So if it runs in your family, your risk is definitely increased. Other risk factors that you may be stuck with, include your sex, race, and stage of life.
For example, men are more prone to heart disease, as are people of African, Native American, or Mexican descent. Postmenopausal women have a higher risk, and the risk for both men and women increases with age, especially if you’re over age 65.
These risk factors aren’t something you can change, but they also aren’t the only risk factors for heart disease.
Lifestyle plays a huge role in heart disease, so understanding what puts you at a higher risk for heart problems greatly lowers your chances of heart problems later on. A few of the lifestyle factors that put you at risk for heart disease include:
- Physical inactivity
- Excess weight or obesity
- Poor nutrition
- Excessive alcohol use
Certain medical conditions also put your heart at risk, especially uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. High cholesterol plays a role in heart problems, if you don’t get it under control. At our facility, Dr. Fakhri helps you understand how changing lifestyle factors helps lower your chances of heart problems.
Sometimes, though, quitting smoking or losing some weight just isn’t enough. If that’s the case, Dr. Fakhri may recommend medications like anticoagulants or antithrombotics for a moderate case of heart disease.
If these measures don’t seem to be working, or if your case of heart disease is severe, Dr. Fakhri may recommend surgery.
If you think you're at risk for heart disease, call one of our two conveniently located offices in Wesley Chapel or Tampa, Florida, to make an appointment. You can also schedule a consultation on our website using our online booking tool.