Heart Disease

Heart disease refers to a wide range of cardiovascular issues and is the number one cause of death in the United States. And while this is true, it is also manageable and preventable in most cases by making proper lifestyle changes.  

 

Types and Symptoms

 

Types of heart disease and the symptoms pertaining to that specific type include:

 

  • Arrhythmia - an abnormality of the heart rhythm. 

  • Atherosclerosis - the hardening of the arteries.

  • Cardiomyopathy - the hardening and weakening of the heart’s muscles.

  • Congenital heart defects - heart irregularities that are present at birth.

  • Coronary artery disease - the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries.

  • Heart infection - caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

 

Diagnosis

 

Once a person’s doctor has performed a routine physical exam and taken into account notable symptoms and family history, they will typically order more testing to be performed.  This will usually include blood work since this can give a doctor an idea of cholesterol levels.  Noninvasive tests, such as electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, stress test, and heart MRI, are usually the next step needed in order to get a proper diagnosis.  If needed, invasive testing, such as cardiac catheterization, coronary angiography, and an electrophysiology study, may also be needed. 

 

Treatment

 

Heart disease treatments vary by condition. For instance, if you have a heart infection, you'll likely be given antibiotics. In general, treatment for heart disease usually includes:

  • Lifestyle changes that include eating a low-fat and low-sodium diet, getting at least 30 minutes of low to moderate exercise on most days of the week, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption.

  • Medications may be prescribed by a doctor If lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to control your heart disease. The type of medication will depend on the type of heart disease.

  • Surgery is possible If medications aren't enough.  The type of procedure will depend on the type of heart disease and the extent of the damage to your heart.

 

Prevention

 

Choosing healthy habits and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower a person’s risk for heart disease.  Some of these choices include:

 

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Limiting/eliminating processed foods and foods high in saturated fats

  • Avoiding high levels of alcohol consumption

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week

  • Quitting smoking