Heart Disease was the leading cause of death in the United States in 2013. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 610, 000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year. Almost 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death of African-Americans. Nearly 44% of African -American men and 48% of African American women have some form of cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke.
The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions according to the CDC. The most common type is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can cause a heart attack. Heart valve problems and the failure of the heart to pump blood properly are also major causes of heart disease.
Heart disease and stroke can cause serious disability, illness and a decreased quality of life. Heart disease and stroke have tremendous economic costs to American society. In 2011, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a study that said heart disease and stroke had $312.6 billion in direct medical costs. The pain and suffering inflicted upon the patient and caregivers are difficult to overcome. Many people understandably try to avoid having anything to do with heart disease. Knowing more about heart disease and the ways to prevent heart attacks and strokes are important.
Indications of a Heart Attack
The Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at CDC notes these major signs of a heart attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or the left side of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or that goes away and come back.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath. Often comes along with chest discomfort. Shortness of breath can occur before chest discomfort.
- Other symptoms. May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
The CDC has a quiz about heart disease that Jay Harold feels is informative.
Can Heart Disease be Prevented?
The CDC suggests you take 5 steps to reduce your risk for heart disease:
- Don’t smoke. Visit CDC’s website on Smoking and Health for more information.
- Maintain a healthy weight. CDC’s Healthy Weight website has tools that can help you lose weight.
- Eat a healthy diet. Tips on reducing the saturated fat in your diet are available at CDC’s Division for Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
- Exercise regularly. The Physical Activity website at CDC has tools and tips to get you moving.
- Prevent or treat your other health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
The following video, “Million Hearts: Preventing Heart Attacks and Strokes,” puts a face to this terrible disease..