Heart Disease Information
Heart Disease is one of many cardiovascular diseases along with stroke, high blood pressure, angina, and rheumatic heart disease. Heart disease is a persistent condition that cannot be cured with surgery. Surgery can help blood flow, but does not heal the arteries and damaged arteries increase your risk of heart attack.
Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, women account for more than half of the cases of heart disease related deaths (52.8% of the total).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of women 65 and older. Heart disease is also the second leading cause of death among women aged 45-64 years and the third leading cause of death among women aged 25-44 years. In fact, all forms of cancer put together do not cause as many deaths of women (including breast cancer) in the US as heart disease.
Common Risk Factors
Risk factors that increase your risk of heart disease include, but are not limited to:
- High Cholesterol
- High Triglycerides
- High Blood Pressure
- Genetics (Family History)
- Lack of Exercise
Discovering Heart Disease
The above risk factors are important indicators of risk of heart disease, but the only way to really know is to speak with your doctor about it.
It starts with you
Just because your doctor has not told you that you have heart disease does not mean you are in the clear. Your doctor may not be looking for signs of heart disease so asking is the only way to make sure your doctor knows you are worried about it and that they should look for it.
Speak clearly and directly. Tell your doctor that you are worried. Ask them their opinion. No matter what their answers are, ask them to check for it. A simple blood test can identify the most common risk factors.
Limiting Risk Factors for Heart Disease
If you are overweight, cut down on calories to reach your ideal body weight. This includes all sources of calories (fats, proteins, carbohydrates and alcohol).
Reduce saturated fat, trans fat and the cholesterol content of your diet.
Reduce intake of alcohol. Even small amounts of alcohol can lead to large changes in triglyceride levels, an important marker for risk of heart disease. There is a direct relationship between alcohol and risk of heart disease (as well as overall mortality rate). This relationship exists among occassional binge drinkers and regular drinkers of more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day. In regular drinkers, this number climbs rapidly the more you increase the number of drinks per day.
Eat vegetables, fruits, and nonfat or low-fat dairy products most often. Choose lean meats and poultry preared without skin or added saturated fat or trans fat. Most nutrition facts panels contain information on cholesterol content. Though this may vary person to person, try to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.
Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days each week.
Substitute fish high in omega-3 fatty acids instead of meats high in saturated fat like hamburger. Fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Stop Smoking! Tobacco smoke is a major risk factor of heart disease and stroke. Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol levels, increases triglyceride levels, damages the lining of blood vessels and increases the risk of a blood clot.