How to Identify Heart Disease

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February is American Heart Month! Did you know nearly 85 million people are affected by heart disease around the world? Or, how about that heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths? Taking care of your heart health is important, and we here at All American Healthcare want to help you find your path to great health. – All American Healthcare New Orleans


Millions of Americans live with heart disease, stroke, or a cardiovascular condition, and nearly 85 million people around the globe are dealing with potentially fatal heart conditions. Know the facts so you can start taking care of your heart today.

The Heart:

  • The heart is a muscle (about the same size as an adult fist).
  • The heart beats about 70 times per minute and pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
  • Blood circulates throughout your body in a cycle. The heart pumps blood to the lungs to gain oxygen before it travels back to the heart. From there, the hearts pumps blood through the arteries to other organs in the body. Blood then travels through your veins back to the heart.

CDC Heart Facts:

  • 610,000 people (1 in every 4) die of heart disease in the US every year.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.
  • Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the most common cause of death.
  • Roughly 730,000 Americans have a heart attack every year. Over 500,000 of these are a patient’s first heart attack.
  • Heart attacks have several major warning signs.

What is a Heart Attack?

How do you know when you are having a heart attack? A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not have enough oxygen-rich blood flow. This commonly happens when a blood clot develops in a coronary artery. The first sign of a heart attack is chest pain. The pain may spread across the chest and upper body. This pain may last minutes or hours. Some heart attacks occur with no pain at all. During a heart attack, a patient may experience the following:

  • Chest discomfort, mild pain
  • Coughing
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling of terror that your life is coming to its end
  • Feeling really awful (general feeling)
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Grey face, clammy and sweaty
  • Vomiting

What is Coronary Heart Disease?

  • CHD, also known as coronary artery disease, is identified by a narrowing of the coronary arteries which supply oxygen and blood to the heart.
  • The coronary arteries are the network of blood vessels that exist on the surface of the heart and supply the heart muscle with oxygen.
  • CHD is generally caused by a build up of plaque in the artery walls which results in less blood flow to the heart.
  • Sometimes, a buildup of plaque can harden, rupture and cause a blood clot, reducing and potentially blocking the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

Symptoms of Coronary Heart Disease

  • CHD is classified under levels of angina, or chest pain.
  • Signs include chest pain or tightness that can be identified by squeezing, heaviness, burning or pressure across the chest that usually starts behind the breastbone.
  • This pain can spread to the neck, jaw, shoulders, arms or even the throat.
  • Stable angina: short-term shortness of breath, gas or indigestion that is brought on by the heart overworking. These symptoms create a predictable pattern and are relieved by rest or medication.
  • Unstable angina: occurs at rest and caused by blood clots. This symptom may worsen over time and last longer than other symptoms.
  • Variant angina: occurs at rest and is severe. This symptom is due to an artery spasm that causes the artery to tighten and narrow. This can be triggered by cold, stress, medicines or cocaine use.
  • Symptoms that do not include chest pain can involve fatigue, shortness of breath, and general weakness.

Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease

  • The risk of coronary heart disease increases with age.
  • Males tend to be affected more than females.
  • Genetics can indicate your chances of developing CHD.
  • Smoking increases your chances for CHD. Carbo monoxide can damage lining of blood vessels. Nicotine can narrow blood vessels.
  • Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause arteries to thicken and harden.
  • High blood cholesterol build up plaque.
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Stress
  • Poor diet

 

Sources: Medical News TodayCenter for Disease Control, American Heart Association

How to Identify Heart Disease

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