Heart Disease - Know What It Is, Your Risk Factors, And Steps To Take For Heart Disease Prevention
By Debbie Benson
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. The most common type is coronary heart disease. Risk factors include high cholesterol, being overweight, and high blood pressure. It usually takes years for symptoms to appear; in many cases, the first symptom is usually a sudden heart attack. While there is no cure, the condition often can be treated through lifestyle changes (such as losing weight, quitting smoking, lowering the daily sodium intake,) and possibly taking medication.
The coronary arteries are blood vessels that carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. When these arteries become clogged with fatty deposits called plaque, it's called coronary artery disease, coronary heart disease, or just heart disease. Clogged arteries can keep the heart from getting enough blood and oxygen, and can cause chest pain (angina). If a blood clot forms, it can suddenly cut off blood flow in the artery and cause a heart attack.
Plaque forms in the arteries over many years in a process called atherosclerosis. One cause of plaque in the arteries is too much cholesterol in the blood. As plaque builds up, the artery gradually narrows and becomes clogged. The artery can also become less elastic, which is often referred to as "hardening of the arteries".
Although risk factors are not actual causes of heart disease, they do increase a person's chances of developing it, including:
Steps for effective heart disease prevention include:
Important lifestyle changes include:
Don't make it too hard to start doing something to help your heart. If you do, then you probably won't change or do anything or stick with the changes. You can start with these 2 steps:
Decide to start making some healthy lifestyle changes today. Small changes and making better choices will help your heart and can increase your chances of improving, possibly reversing, or preventing heart disease.
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