Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable.
Heart disease is a major problem. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, approximately 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year — that’s one out of every four deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. These deaths are attributed to heart attacks, congestive heart failure and problems in the heart valves.
“The situation is alarming, but there is good news — heart disease can be prevented and is controllable. We can start by taking small steps every day to bring our loved ones and ourselves closer to heart health,” said UofL Physicians cardiologist Dr. Sohail Ikram.
Plan for Prevention
Some health conditions and lifestyle factors can put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing nutritious 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 five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, but high in fiber, can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. (Learn the facts about blood pressure by clicking here.)
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease.
- Limit alcohol use. Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure.
- Have your cholesterol checked. Test your cholesterol level regularly.
- Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely.
- Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Heart attack symptoms
The five major symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, arms, shoulders neck or back
- Feeling weak
- Feeling light-headed or faint
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations (feeling like your heart is pounding or racing)
If you think that you or someone you know is having a heart attack, don’t drive yourself to the hospital, call 911 immediately.