Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the United States, one in every four deaths is the result of heart disease. That’s approximately 655,000 people who die from the condition each year. While it can be deadly, in most people, heart disease can be prevented. Living a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack.
Heart disease is a broad term that includes a number of cardiovascular problems. There are several different diseases and conditions that fall under heart disease, and depending on the type, different symptoms will be present. Types of heart disease include:
- Arrhythmia - heart rhythm abnormality
- Atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries
- Cardiomyopathy - a condition that causes the heart’s muscles to harden or grow weak
- Congenital heart defects - heart irregularities that are present at birth
- Coronary artery disease (CAD) - caused by the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries, sometimes called ischemic heart disease
- Heart infections - may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.
There are many risk factors for heart disease. The CDC says that around 47 percent of Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Some risk factors are controllable, and examples of these include:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol
- physical inactivity
With healthier lifestyle habits, you can potentially live longer and have a healthier heart. These habits can also help you treat the condition and prevent it from getting worse. Your diet is one of those you may seek to change.
Risk factors for heart disease you cannot control include:
- family history
Annual physical exams with your healthcare provider are vital in diagnosing heart disease. During your appointments, make sure you communicate about your family history and other risk factors. This information is essential to the provider, so you and your healthcare team can work together to prevent or treat conditions that can lead to heart disease.