By Benoit Bewley, MD, Cardiology, Nuvance Health
Heart disease is a major health concern because it affects so many people. Understanding heart disease can help you take steps to prevent and manage it. Here are ten important things to know about heart disease.
1: Heart disease is common
Heart disease is a leading cause of death globally. It includes conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart failure and arrhythmias.
2: Risk factors for heart disease
Several risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing heart disease, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- A family history of heart disease
- A sedentary lifestyle
3: Heart disease prevention
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Quitting smoking
- Managing stress
4: Heart disease symptoms
Common symptoms of heart disease can include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations and dizziness. However, some people may not experience any symptoms, especially in the early stages.
5: Types of heart disease
There are various types of heart disease, including:
- Coronary artery disease (blocked blood vessels)
- Heart failure (weakened heart muscle)
- Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
- Heart valve problems
6: How is heart disease diagnosed?
Doctors use a combination of methods to diagnose heart disease, such as:
- Physical exams
- Blood tests
- Electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG)
- Stress tests
- Cardiac catheterization
7: Treatments for heart disease
Treatment options for heart disease depend on the specific condition and its severity. Treatments may include:
- Lifestyle changes and heart-healthy habits
- Medical procedures like stent placement or bypass surgery
8: A heart-healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease
A heart-healthy diet includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and limited saturated and trans fats. Reducing sodium intake (salt) can also help manage blood pressure.
9: Exercise can reduce the risk heart disease
Regular physical activity is essential for heart health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have heart disease risk factors. Learn more about cardiovascular endurance.
10: Show your heart some love by having regular medical check-ups
Regular medical check-ups can help monitor your heart health and catch potential issues early. Discuss your risk factors and any concerns with your healthcare provider.
The bottom line: It’s important to stay informed about heart disease and take steps to prevent it or manage it effectively. If you have concerns about your heart health or risk factors, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and recommendations.
Dr. Bewley is a cardiologist with The Heart Center, part of Nuvance Health.