Heart disease is a condition that negatively impacts the way your heart works. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. This disease is caused by the presence of blockages (or “plaques”) in blood vessels of the heart. Blockages are due to the build-up of cholesterol, fat and other substances in the walls of the blood vessels. This build-up causes the inside of the blood vessels to narrow over time, a process called atherosclerosis
Heart attacks occur when a plaque ruptures into the bloodstream or a blood clot forms on the plaque’s surface—blocking blood flow to parts of the heart. If the heart does not receive enough blood, the heart muscle will be injured. Warning signs of a heart attack include chest pain, nausea, vomiting and sweating. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
You Can Reduce Your Risks Today:
- Improve Your Diet: Consume less sodium and fat. Include more vegetables and fruits in your diet. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamins and nutrients and generally low in calories.
- Increase Your Activity: The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. That is only 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week! Moderate exercise can include walking, jogging, climbing stairs or even swimming. If you have trouble reaching this goal, try exercising 15 minutes per day to start and slowly increase the time you spend exercising.
- Stop Smoking: On the first day you stop smoking, you will feel healthier because you will be healthier. Smoking can worsen plaque build-up. Keep in mind that second-hand smoke can affect your health as well. Each year about 4,000 adults die from heart disease caused by second-hand smoke. It is important for your friends and family to quit smoking, too!
- Take Your Medications as Recommended: There are many medications that can be used to treat heart disease. Take your medication(s) every day as recommended by your provider. Some ways to remember to take your medications include using a pillbox or setting an alarm on your phone. Contact your provider if you have questions or concerns about your medication.
As always, it is best to work together with your provider to recognize, manage and prevent heart disease. See links below for more information.