Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. In men, the risk for heart attack increases significantly after the age of 45. In women, heart attacks are more likely to occur after the age of 50. A heart attack strikes someone about every 34 seconds. How much do you really know about your heart health? It’s easy to be lulled into the misconception that heart disease only happens to someone else.
While most heart attack victims are middle-aged or older, the truth is that heart disease can affect anyone, of any age, even those who exercise and eat all the right foods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 735,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. Approximately 525,000 of these Americans are experiencing their first occurrence.
Heart disease can happen at any age. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35–64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease which are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
Many of the conditions and behaviors that put people at risk for heart disease are appearing at younger ages. Millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, including millions of people in their 40s and 50s.
About half of the people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
High cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease. Having diabetes and/or obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough physical activity can all contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
More than 35 million U.S. adults are current smokers, and thousands of young people start smoking each day. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans and nearly 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 have obesity.
Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. More than 1 in 10 people in the United States have diabetes.
Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Only 1 in 4 adults meet the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.
Most Americans, including children, eat too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in salt with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. Only about 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits and vegetables each day.
Would you be able to tell if you are having a heart attack? The warning signs include:
- Chest pain. Most heart attacks start slowly and involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or disappears and then returns. It may feel like uncomfortable pressure or a squeezing sensation.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, having nausea or light-headed.
The most common heart attack symptom for both men and women are chest pain or discomfort. But women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, and they are more likely to experience some of the other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath/fainting, nausea/vomiting or back and jaw pain.
You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your heart. Learn how to be heart-healthy at any age. Here are 4 ways that you can control your heart health.
- Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
- Work with your healthcare team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This includes taking any medicines you have been prescribed.
- Eat food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits and aim for low sodium options.
- Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the exercise into 10-minute blocks for a total of 30 minutes in a day.
If you believe you may experience any heart disease symptoms and feel we can help you, please call us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you live your best healthy life.