Did you know that 47% of Americans have at least one of three major risk factors leading to heart disease? Heart disease is the number one cause of death, and yet most people are more cautious about cancer development. You may be familiar with risk factors and symptoms associated with various types of cancer, but how much do you know about heart disease? It’s time to become educated on the risk factors, symptoms, and preventative measures for heart disease.
Test Your Knowledge
MDVIP, a network of primary care doctors, realized this information gap in regards to heart disease. So, they developed a quiz to test the general public’s knowledge about heart attacks. 62% of participants failed this simple quiz proving that the need for awareness and education about heart attacks and heart disease is great. We encourage you to take this quiz and find out what you missed. The more you understand about heart disease, the more prepared you will be in preventing a heart attack.
What are the Risk Factors of Heart Disease?
The three major risk factors associated with heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. High blood pressure occurs when the pressure of the blood in your arteries and blood vessels gets too high. In most cases, there are no symptoms associated with high blood pressure, but if you experience facial flushing, dizziness, headaches, or nosebleeds, check your blood pressure. If it remains high after retesting, contact your doctor. High cholesterol is used to describe a condition when there is too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the body.
LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because, over time, it builds up in your arteries, decreasing the flow of blood to vital organs and causing heart disease. Having your blood tested for cholesterol levels is the only way to know if you have high cholesterol. The third risk factor is diabetes, a condition in which your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or is unable to use insulin as well as it should. In this case, sugar builds up in the blood, putting you at risk for heart disease. In fact, adults with diabetes have a higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who do not have diabetes.
Identifying a Heart Attack and Stroke
Heart disease often leads to either a heart attack or stroke. Understanding the symptoms of both can be lifesaving. A heart attack can reveal itself by pain in the chest. This is a broad statement that includes tightness, uncomfortable pressure, or a squeezing sensation. Discomfort or pain in the left arm is traditionally associated with heart attack, but discomfort can also be felt in the jaw, stomach, neck, or back, as well as the right arm. Pain in other parts of the body during a heart attack is common in women. Shortness of breath, nausea, and lightheadedness are other signs of a heart attack.
The signs of a stroke can be identified using the acronym F.A.S.T. Face drooping-is one side of the face is numb or drooping? If you’re unsure, ask that person to smile. Arm weakness-is one arm numb or unable to move properly? Ask your loved one to raise both arms to double check. Speech difficulty-is the person slurring his speech or unable to communicate properly? Can he correctly repeat a simple sentence? Time to call 9-1-1-Call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, even if they go away.
Preventing Heart Disease
Making lifestyle adjustments is the best way to protect your heart from heart disease and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. These adjustments are worth the effort to give you a longer, healthier life. Managing your weight by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet will go a long way in taking care of your heart. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and cut back on processed foods. When you eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, but high in fiber, you’ll reduce your risk of high cholesterol. Limiting your salt intake helps lower your risk of high blood pressure. Watching how much sugar and processed carbohydrates you eat can help you manage or prevent diabetes. Exercising at least two and a half hours every week is recommended for adults. This may be one of the more challenging lifestyle habits to adopt, but your heart will be glad you did!
If you have questions or concerns about your risk for heart disease, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today. We encourage you to become more informed about the risks of heart attack and stroke and take your heart health seriously.