Year after year, there's one top killer of Americans—heart disease. About 697,000 people die of heart disease in America each year. While many of us associate heart problems with the elderly, nearly 20% of heart disease deaths are in those under 65. Heart disease can be sneaky, and you may not recognize its symptoms until it’s too late.
Thankfully, several heart diseases are preventable. By knowing the signs, symptoms, and predispositions contributing to this lethal ailment, you and your loved ones might just catch this dangerous disease in time to make a real impact. Keep a lookout for these signs & symptoms from the team at UAB Medical West—your life might just depend on it.
What Are the Types of Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a general term for various heart problems. Also called cardiovascular disease, heart disease affects the heart structure, heartbeat, arteries, or valves of the heart. The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, but many other lethal heart diseases exist.
Heart disease compromises many heart conditions, including (but not limited to):
- Coronary artery disease: This occurs when arteries become too narrow, often from the production of plaque. Plaque is made up of waste products from cells, usually cholesterol, and can block blood and oxygen flow to the heart.
- Congenital heart disease: Congenital heart disease diagnosis is at birth and can range in severity. Many people have congenital heart diseases that don’t affect their daily lives.
- Heart arrhythmia: Electrical impulses synchronize our heartbeats; if you have heart arrhythmia, your heart cannot monitor the impulses. This results in a heartbeat that is too slow or too fast.
- Cardiomyopathy: This cardio condition occurs when the walls of your heart become thicker, stiffer, stretchier, more significant, or filled with bodily substances. There are many types of cardiomyopathy, and cardiomyopathy tends to be progressive.
- Pulmonary stenosis: The pulmonary valve becomes too narrow to support normal blood flow during this condition. As a result, the right ventricle works harder and becomes more prominent than usual.
What Causes Heart Disease?
While heart disease causes vary between conditions, there are a few common causes of the dreaded disease. Often, you may not experience symptoms of heart disease until later in life, but the contributors occur early in life.
Some causes of heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivityExcessive alcohol usage
What Are the Signs of Heart Disease?
Sometimes, you may not know you have heart disease until you have a heart attack or other cardiac episode. However, there are signs of heart disease that you can recognize, but they will vary depending on the specific condition. You know your body best, and if anything ever feels out of the ordinary, and could be a symptom of heart disease, don’t hesitate to seek medical care.
Some symptoms of heart disease include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Change in skin color
- Coughing or wheezing
- Swelling in your extremities (legs, ankles, and feet)
- Uneven heartbeat
- Fast heartbeat
Don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local emergency number if you experience any symptoms of heart disease, especially if you’re over 65.
How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?
While you can’t control certain risk factors, like genetics, you can live a heart-healthy life and encourage others to do the same. If you have high blood pressure, be vigilant about taking your prescribed medication to control the condition. Likewise, if you have high cholesterol, we recommend you make the advised lifestyle changes and any medications prescribed by your doctor to avoid heart problems.
Some lifestyle changes you can make to prevent heart disease include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol, managing stress, and not smoking. Poor lifestyle choices often cause high blood pressure or high cholesterol, two risk factors for heart disease.
Prioritize Heart Health in 2023
If you recognize the signs of symptoms of heart disease, you can make a difference in your life and the lives around you. In 2023, you can control your lifestyle choices to prevent heart disease. If you have questions about heart health or want to learn more about living a heart-healthy life, contact UAB Medical West today!
Schedule an Appointment with a Cardiologist Today
At UAB Medical West, we specialize in heart disease treatment–and beyond. Find your local cardiologist in various areas, including Hueytown, Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, Vance, and others. Schedule an appointment for your heart health and get expert advice by calling (205) 481-7000 today or contacting us online.