Heart disease refers of a wide variety of conditions that affect the heart. The most common type in the United States is coronary heart disease. This disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease is the main cause of heart attacks, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias.
Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the U.S. alone each year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. The good news is that is a preventable and controllable disease.
Heart Attack Symptoms
The five major symptoms of a heart attack are the following:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
- Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint.
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder.
- Shortness of breath.
If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9–1–1 immediately.
The situation is alarming, but there is good news—heart disease is preventable and controllable. We can start by taking small steps every day to bring our loved ones and ourselves closer to heart health. CDC is providing a tip a day throughout February, but you can take these small steps all year long.
What Can I Do to Prevent Heart Disease?
There are many steps anyone can take to have a healthy heart:
Be physically active. Talk to your doctor about the type of activities that would be best for you. If possible, aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most or all days of the week. Every day is best. It doesn't have to be done all at once—10-minute periods will do. Start by doing activities you enjoy—brisk walking, dancing, bowling, bicycling, or gardening, for example. You might want to join a city recreational, an exercise group, or a gym.
No Smoking. Smoking adds to the damage to the lining of the artery walls. If you smoke it is never too late to stop smoking. If you don't smoke, don't start.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. Choose low-fat foods. And if you drink alcohol, men should not have more than two drinks a day and women only one.
Avoid Cholesterol. Cholesterol is a type of fat in some foods. Eating fatty foods can raise the cholesterol in your blood. High blood cholesterol levels could add to the plaque in your arteries. Your doctor can check the cholesterol in your blood with a blood test. This will tell you your overall or total cholesterol level as well as the LDLs ("bad" cholesterol), HDLs ("healthy" cholesterol), and triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood that puts you at risk for heart problems). Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years.
Maintain a healthy weight. Your healthcare provider will probably check your weight and height to learn your BMI (body mass index). A BMI of 25 or higher means you are at greater risk for heart disease as well as diabetes (high blood sugar) and other health conditions. Following a healthy eating plan and being physically active might help you.
Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor's office.
Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Additional Information on a Healthy Heart:
- Limiting Salt and Sodium
- Nutrition and Physical Activity
- Choose My Plate
- Calculate Your Body Mass Index (MBI)
- Assessing Your Weight
- High Blood Pressure
- Smoking and Tobacco Use