Know the facts about heart disease

Heritage Woods of Minooka

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.

February is American Heart Month and a great time to raise awareness of heart disease.

Heart disease can be silent. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. According to the CDC, the most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.

A person with heart disease may not be diagnosed until they experience symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure or an arrhythmia. Be aware of chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, extreme fatigue, heart palpitations or shortness of breath.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are the key risk factors. Nearly half of people in the United States have at least one of these risk factors.

High blood pressure increases the rate at which arterial plaque builds and can quicken the rate that arteries become blocked. Blocked arteries greatly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and even death. High cholesterol is a major contributor to arterial plaque formation.

Smoking, diabetes, family history and stress are factors too. According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors often occur together, and one may trigger another. For instance, obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. When grouped together, certain risk factors make you even more likely to develop coronary artery disease.

A completely blocked coronary artery will cause a heart attack. Coronary artery disease can cause chest pain, or angina, as well as shortness of breath.

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity and excessive alcohol use.

You can reduce your risk of a heart attack by maintaining a healthy weight by exercise regularly.

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka