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What is heart disease?Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, usually starts with atherosclerosis. The process of atherosclerosis builds up plaque in the walls of the arteries, which narrows them and affects their ability to supply blood to the rest of your body. This can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD), which is what most people think of when they hear "heart disease". CAD is the most common type of heart disease in the United States and can cause heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure depending on how severe it is. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes not only CAD but also stroke, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), high blood pressure, and heart valve issues - anything that affects your heart or blood vessels. (Source: Cleveland Clinic)
How common is heart disease?Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S., killing more people than any other cause. Every year in the United States there are 605,000 first heart attacks and 200,000 recurrent ones, on average these patients will be 66 years old for men and 72 years old for women. Heart attacks are a leading cause of death in America, but they can be prevented with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Can I reduce my risk of developing heart disease?The answer is yes! Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., and 80% of heart disease is preventable. So the first step in reducing your risk of developing heart disease is to understand your risk factors. There are two types of risk factors - those you can control, and those you can’t control. Risk factors you can control are your weight, quitting smoking, managing your diabetes, physical activity, managing your high blood pressure, nutrition/alcohol intake. (Source: Cleveland Clinic) Risk factors you can't control are age, family history of heart disease or stroke, gender (Men have higher rates of heart disease).
Why should I have health screenings done if I have no symptoms?Many people are at risk for diseases such as stroke and heart disease but experience no symptoms. Early detection and control can prevent major consequences down the road. For example, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a major warning sign for a full-blown stroke, but only about 15-20% of people who have a stroke have a warning TIA. (Source: American Heart Association) A TIA can be treated with medication or surgery to remove blockages in your blood vessels. Left untreated, a TIA can cause severe brain damage or death. If you're not experiencing any symptoms, then why should you get screened? Because early detection is key to preventing long-term complications!
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