February is American Health Month and the perfect time to take stock of your overall health and wellness.
As much as we’ve heard about other ailments in the news in the recent past, heart disease remains the number one killer in the US. Heart disease can lead to a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, aneurysm, sudden cardiac arrest, and peripheral artery disease.
Not all cases of heart disease are preventable but research shows lifestyle changes can go a long way towards improving your overall health. Check out these daunting facts provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- About 1 in 5 deaths in the US were caused by heart disease in 2020 in the US.
- Heart disease cost the US around $229 billion in the year leading up to 2018.
- One in person dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the US.
- Someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the US.
- About one fifth of all heart attacks aren’t known by the victim but cause lasting damage.
How can you avoid heart disease?
There are numerous risk factors for heart disease and knowing what they are can help increase your chances of leading a long and productive life.
Some people suffer from heart disease because they have a family history that increases their risk. Certain genetic compositions can lead to an increased risk of clogged arteries over time. If one of your parents developed coronary artery disease, (plaque build-up in the walls of their arteries), it’s a good idea to let your doctor know.
Men who develop coronary artery disease before age 55, and women before 65, are more likely to have a genetic component to their disease. In essence, if someone in your family died early from a heart attack or stroke, this may be a warning sign. Inquire with your doctor about genetic testing for heart disease. This type of test is often as simple as providing a blood sample or a cheek swab. Don’t be afraid of your results. Your test results can help you and your doctor make health decisions that can be best for your heart.
People who smoke, don’t get enough sleep, avoid exercise, and eat an unhealthy diet have also been shown to be more at risk of developing heart disease.
To reduce your risk, do the following:
- Exercise about 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce your stress
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night as an adult
- Eat foods low in salt and saturated fats
- Keep your weight in a healthy zone
The common signs of a heart attack
Knowing the signs and symptoms when it comes to a heart attack can help save lives. People display different signs and it’s important to get any unusual symptoms checked out.
The common symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in your jaw
- Discomfort in your jaw
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Back pain or discomfort
- Neck pain or discomfort
- Shoulder pain or discomfort
- Stomach pain
- Feeling lightheaded
- A cold sweat
Seek medical help if you experience these symptoms without any other known cause. Heart disease can be addressed: you’re worth it.
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