Heart Disease and How You Can Be at Risk

A nurse is analyzing a patient's x-ray for signs of heart disease and assessing the risk level.

On behalf of American Heart Month, We Recognize Heart Disease and How You Can Be at Risk

The American Heart Association (AHA) recognizes February as American Heart Month to raise awareness and prevention for cardiovascular disease in the community. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, killing 1 in 4 people every year. There are many forms of heart disease and the symptoms vary depending on the case. The good news is that it can be prevented and treated with the healthy choices you make every day.

What Are the Symptoms?

Heart disease includes any condition or disease that affects your blood vessels and arteries, along with your heart’s muscle, valves and rhythm. Conditions of these important aspects of the cardiac organ can lead to heart attack, chest pain, or stroke, and unfortunately for a lot of times, you may not be diagnosed until these events occur. That’s why it is critical to keep an eye out for symptoms and maintain routine checkups with your doctor. And the symptoms you experience can also vary depending on what exactly is affected. The most common symptoms include chest fluttering, racing or slow heartbeat; lightheadedness, dizziness, or shortness of breath; chest pain, tightness or pressure, and discomfort; pain, numbness, or swelling in legs and arms; and pain in neck, jaw, upper abdomen and back. Call your doctor if any of these symptoms occur frequently, without cause, and seek immediate attention if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or fainting. Remember, heart disease can be treatable if its detected early.

What Causes Heart Disease?

Your chances of heart disease increase as you get older and depending on your family history. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease, but women’s risk increases after menopause. Various medical conditions and lifestyle choices can affect your chances of experiencing cardiovascular problems. Congenital heart disease involves defects that you are born with and typically develop in the womb. Diabetes, obesity, stress, poor exercise and diet, including excessive alcohol consumption, could all put you at high risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries and is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. Almost half of Americans experience one of these 3 major risk factors – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Smoking constricts your blood vessels and damages the inner lining, leading to atherosclerosis. High blood pressure thickens and hardens your arteries, which narrows your vessels and make it hard for blood to flow. High cholesterol will increase the formation of plaque.

How Can You Prevent it?

While risk factors vary and some may be uncontrollable, there are ways of maintaining a healthy heart. Reducing your stress, eating right and staying physically active are ways to avoid heart disease and other chronic conditions. According to the AHA, only 1 in 5 adults and teens are getting an adequate amount of exercise to maintain good health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion suggests that aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and flexibility training should be part of your physical routine. Stress can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, which can result in heart disease if it goes untreated. Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation, prioritizing responsibilities, and find enjoyable ways to diffuse and relax. Healthy eating and a heart-friendly diet can do so much for your body long term. Read food labels carefully and limit fat, sodium, calories and sweets consumption. The number of calories you should take in a day depends on your age, gender, and level of physical activity. Aim to eat foods that are nutrient-rich, full of minerals, protein and whole grains to help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Talk with Your Healthcare Team

Discuss with your healthcare provider and insurance agent about how to prevent and treat medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Primary Care Insurance Solutions can provide you with the right plans that offer preventative care and benefits to treat any current conditions. Meet with your doctor for a health assessment, ask questions, and make up a plan to regularly monitor your heart health. From there, practice a health-mindful lifestyle with your family and continue the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is February recognized as American Heart Month?

The American Heart Association (AHA) designates February as American Heart Month to raise awareness and prevention of cardiovascular disease in the community.

What is the leading cause of death in the United States?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths annually.

What are some common symptoms of heart disease?

Symptoms of heart disease can include chest fluttering, racing or slow heartbeat, lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, tightness or pressure, discomfort, pain, numbness, or swelling in legs and arms, and pain in the neck, jaw, upper abdomen, and back.

What factors contribute to the risk of heart disease?

Age, family history, gender (men are generally at greater risk, while women’s risk increases after menopause), medical conditions (diabetes, obesity), and lifestyle choices (smoking, poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption) contribute to the risk of heart disease.

What is atherosclerosis, and how does it relate to heart disease?

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries and is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease. It narrows arteries and restricts blood flow.

How can individuals prevent heart disease?

Individuals can prevent heart disease by managing stress, maintaining a healthy diet, and staying physically active. Aerobic activity, muscle strengthening, and flexibility training should be part of a physical routine. Stress-reducing techniques and heart-friendly diets, with nutrient-rich foods, can also help prevent heart disease.

What should individuals do to maintain good heart health?

Individuals should discuss heart health with their healthcare providers and insurance agents, consider plans that offer preventive care, and regularly monitor their heart health. Health assessments, questions, and health-mindful lifestyle changes are important steps.

What is the role of Primary Care Insurance Solutions in preventing heart disease?

Primary Care Insurance Solutions can provide individuals with plans that offer preventive care and benefits for treating existing conditions related to heart disease.

How can individuals work towards preventing cardiovascular disease?

Individuals should consult healthcare providers, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and create a plan for monitoring heart health to fight against cardiovascular disease.

What is the aim of American Heart Month?

American Heart Month aims to raise awareness about heart disease, promote prevention, and encourage individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices to improve heart health.

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