Valentine’s day is all about hearts, have you thought about protecting yours? February is heart disease awareness month and these statistics by the American Heart Association may entice you to take action:
“Heart disease” refers to multiple types of heart conditions. The CDC states that the most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart. A decrease in blood flow can cause a heart attack.
Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is caused by the buildup of plaque (made of cholesterol deposits) in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Through the process of atherosclerosis, plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time.
Excess plaque buildup and narrowed artery walls make it harder for blood to flow through the body. When the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood, there may be chest pain and discomfort, called angina: the most common symptom of coronary artery disease.
CAD can weaken the heart muscle over time leading to heart failure, which is a serious condition in which the heart cannot pump blood the way that it should. Arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, can also develop.
Certain poor lifestyle choices can increase your risk for heart disease and heart attack:
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds. One in five heart attacks is silent, meaning the damage is done but the person is not aware of it.
Practice smart and healthy lifestyle habits in addition to staying in touch with your health care team for regular checkups.
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