Heart Disease 300 x 200Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – and the risk of developing it increases with age.

With February’s designation as American Heart Month, Embassy Healthcare reminds you that it’s the perfect time to learn more about the disease that causes one out of every four deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The chances of dying from heart disease increase with age, causing 40% of deaths for those between 65 and 74 years old and 60% for individuals older than 80.

What Causes Heart Disease?

Factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, and diabetes can cause arteries to become stiffer and more strained by the buildup of plaque – known as atherosclerosis. Because the blood can’t flow as freely as it once did, the heart must work harder to get the blood where it needs to be – which in turn raises blood pressure.

Heart disease can develop when these plaque deposits limit the flow of oxygen and nutrients through the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart. If this continues over an extended time, heart failure can occur.

We can keep our arteries and heart healthy by taking the following measures:

  • Exercising more often (a brisk 30-minute walk 4-5 times a week is a good start)
  • If you smoke, quit the habit (smoking worsens artery damage)
  • Keeping cholesterol under control
  • Controlling blood pressure (ask your physician about recommendations)
  • Eat with your heart in mind (consume plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables)
  • Maintain an appropriate weight by eating properly, controlling portion size and exercising

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Because early stages of heart disease don’t often display obvious symptoms, it’s important to maintain a regular checkup schedule with your doctor. Although chest pain, discomfort or pressure is a common sign of heart attack, pain isn’t always present in the advanced stages of heart disease.

Tell your physician if you experience any of the following:

  • Numbness, pain or tingling in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or confusion
  • Chest pain experienced during physical exertion that gets better with rest

For more information about services available at Embassy Healthcare, call us at 888-975-1379 or contact us online.