Facts about Heart Disease
Defining a Heart Attack
- Almost 60 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women and all ethnic and racial groups in the United States
- Heart disease and stroke cause more than one of every two deaths
- More women than men die of heart disease, and women are less likely to know the warning signs for a heart attack
A heart attack occurs when one of the three coronary arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle becomes severely or totally blocked. When the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood, it begins to die.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Risk Factors For Heart Disease
- A heavy chest pain or tightness, usually experienced in the front of the chest, beneath the sternum and often radiating to the left arm, left shoulder or jaw
- Shortness of breath
- Clamminess, cool skin
- A feeling of general weakness or tiredness
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Cigarette smoking
- Inactive lifestyle
- Family history of heart disease
- Increasing age
- Almost 29 percent of adults in the United States have high blood pressure
- More than 50 percent of the people with high blood pressure aren’t being treated at all
Having high blood pressure means that your heart has to work harder to deal with the extra pressure building in your arteries. The normal category of blood pressure is 120/80. The top number is the measurement made when your heart is contracting, the systolic pressure. The bottom number is recorded when your heart is at rest, the diastolic pressure. Hypertension is a significant risk factor for developing coronary artery disease. Some factors that contribute to high blood pressure are salt intake, genetics, obesity, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake and physical inactivity. Cholesterol
A total cholesterol level below 200 mg/dL is desirable. Between 200mg/dL and 239 mg/dL is borderline high blood cholesterol. Higher than 240mg/dL is considered high blood cholesterol. LDL, or low-density lipoproteins, is the dangerous form because it contains more fat and less protein. HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, are beneficial and can help protect your heart from heart disease. Proper nutrition and increased physical activity are some ways to lower your cholesterol. Cholesterol treatment plans focus more on the individual, and your physician will decide what type of treatment is best for you.
Modifying your lifestyle can prevent heart disease or manage existing heart problems. Studies on weight reduction have shown that you lose approximately 1mm Hg from both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure for every two pounds that you lose. Weight reduction is recommended first if you have high blood pressure. Keep BMI (body mass index) below 25.
A physically active lifestyle reduces the risk of heart disease and significantly reduces the risk of other major problems such as hypertension, obesity and hypercholesterolemia. Performing aerobic activity for 30-45 minutes at a moderate intensity for most days of the week is recommended. Breaking up the 30-45 minute exercise period throughout the day produces the same results as doing it all at once.
Eat a balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, cereal, and grain products, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, legumes, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meat).
Facts about Women and Heart Disease
- Heart disease and stroke are the #1 and #3 killers of American women over age 25
- Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 500,000 women each year, about one death a minute
- Only one woman in 27 dies from breast cancer, but one in two dies from heart disease
- One in five women have some form of cardiovascular disease
- 63 percent of women who die suddenly of heart disease have no previous symptoms
- Black and Hispanic women have higher risk factors than white women of comparable socioeconomic status
- Misperceptions still exist that cardiovascular disease is not a real problem for women
This is typically a discomfort felt in the chest, often beneath the breastbone or in nearby areas such as the neck, jaw, back or arms. Angina is produced when there is a diminished blood flow to heart tissue. Individuals describe the discomfort as a heavy pressure on the chest. It is usually brought on by physical exertion and is typically relieved within several minutes by resting or using nitroglycerin. When chest pain occurs at rest, it is considered unstable angina.
These are irregularities in the beating of the heart. They can be triggered in a wide variety of settings and can range from totally insignificant to life threatening.
- More than 40,000 individuals in the United States die each year from a primary rhythm problem
- Rhythm problems are a contributing cause of death in about 25 percent of all deaths each year in the United States
- More than 4 million people are admitted to hospitals every year with a rhythm problem as at least part of their initial symptoms
- Approximately 17 million people in the Unites States suffer from diabetes
- About 90 to 95 percent of these individuals have Type 2 or adult onset diabetes
- Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in individuals with diabetes
Individuals with diabetes often have elevated blood triglycerides and elevated LDL cholesterol and a depressed HDL cholesterol. Recent research indicates that individuals who have some degree of insulin resistance or glucose intolerance also have elevated risk of heart disease. Resources