Heart disease is the nation's No. 1 killer. According to the American Heart Association, statistics indicate that you are more likely to die from heart disease than any other disease. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with heart disease, it is important to understand the risk factors. You have the power to control some of them, including high blood pressure, tobacco use, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, obesity and physical inactivity.
The following page consists of information that may help people avoid various heart diseases.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
The following questions will help you discuss your risk of heart disease with your doctor.
- What are my specific risk factors?
- How does my age affect my risk?
- How does smoking affect me?
- Does my weight put me at risk?
Smoking and Heart Disease
Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disability in the United States. Although smoking leads to more than 430,000 deaths each year, a large percentage of the population -- almost 50 million people -- continues to smoke.
Most people who smoke make 5 to 7 attempts before being successful. It is best if you can quit early on when your risk for disease can be reversed.
Exercise and Heart Health
Regular physical activity, while maintaining your appropriate weight, is essential for reducing your risk of heart disease. Reducing fat and calories and increasing exercise will, over time, help you lose weight, improve blood fat and blood pressure levels, which will lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Even modest exercise can make a difference.
Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Some people say that a heart attack feels like a something is crushing their chest. Crushing, severe chest pain that lasts several minutes is one of the most common symptoms. Some other symptoms include:
- Atypical chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain.
- Nausea or dizziness.
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, often without chest pain of any kind.
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue.