Heart Disease-Prevention Is the Best Medicine
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Symptoms start long after the disease process begins and is the result of the heart not getting enough blood supply due to narrowing of the arteries over time or from an abrupt rupture of existing plaque leading to clot formation. These symptoms are generally brought on by physical exertion and are improved with rest and vary from sudden death (heart attack without previous symptoms) to the familiar chest pain or pressure that radiates to the neck or shoulder area. Shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, excessive sweating, nausea, and indigestion are often associated with chest pain but may be the only symptoms of a heart attack in the diabetic, women, and older adult population.
Although heart attacks cannot always be prevented, there are strategies that can reduce your likelihood of having a heart attack. Physicians call this risk factor management. By helping you to aggressively control other conditions that contribute to the development of heart disease, your risk of a heart attack can be reduced up to 80 percent. Please consider the following risk factors:
Cigarette smoking: Quitting smoking can decrease your chance of a heart attack by 3 to 6 times. If you have already had a heart attack, quitting can decrease your chance of having another heart attack by 50%.
Obesity: Weight reduction will have a significant impact on your general health thereby reducing your risk of heart disease.
Physical inactivity: Moderate aerobic exercise can decrease heart attack death rates by up to 23 percent.
Diabetes: Adequate control of your diabetes decreases you risk of a heart attack by up to 3 times.
High blood pressure: Keeping your blood pressure controlled will help decrease you risk of a heart attack by 18 percent.
High cholesterol: By controlling your cholesterol through diet, weight reduction, exercise, and medication, you can reduce heart attack death rates up to 35 percent.
Other risk factors that we have less control of include being a male over the age of 45 or a female over the age of 55 as well as having a family history of heart disease.
Visit your primary care physician if you have any of the above risk factors or symptoms. After a detailed history and comprehensive examination, your physician can determine any additional diagnostic work up you may need, appropriate specialist referral, and assist you in developing an individualized diet, smoking cessation, and exercise program.