Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is a condition that affects the function and structures of your heart. Causes of heart disease includes multiple factors, such as atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build-up, abnormal heart valves which affects how blood flows through the heart, diseased heart muscle (such as from a heart attack), birth defects of the heart, and abnormal heart rhythms. Heart disease is currently the number one cause of death in the United States.
Risks of Heart Disease
There are two categories of risks related to heart disease: modifiable and non-modifiable. Modifiable risks include factors that can be changed, such as smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Non-modifiable factors are factors that can’t be changed. Examples of non-modifiable factors includes family history of heart disease, age (there is a greater risk over 65 years old), ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status related to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Having a single risk factor does not necessarily mean you will develop heart disease, but having multiple factors does increase your risk. Your doctor will discuss your family history and assess your risk during your regular health visits and will order further testing, such as blood tests or an EKG, if necessary. Early identification of risk factors can help promote your heart health.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
The symptoms experienced varies from person to person and depends on the type of heart disease you have. For example, if you have heart disease involving the blood vessels, you may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and pain in the neck, jaw, or upper back. Patients with heart disease involving weak heart muscle may experience fatigue, swollen feet or legs, irregular heart beats, and breathlessness.
Heart Disease Prevention
Prevention of heart disease requires being aware of modifiable risk factors. Making changes to your diet and exercise are important. Lifestyle choices such as avoiding smoking and managing your stress are also essential. Additionally, regularly meet with your trusted family physician for wellness visits and physical exams and to discuss any necessary changes to your health. Sisselman Medical Group is happy to provide cardiovascular risk assessments for our patients.
If applicable to your situation, your health care provider will also discuss warning signs of a heart attack and stroke during your visit. Help keep your heart healthy by scheduling an appointment with Sisselman Medical Group at either their Massapequa or Commack office locations.