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What can I do to avoid heart disease?
Each of us has our own set of risk factors for heart disease. Taken
together, these factors indicate the likelihood that we will develop
heart problems. There are two kinds of risk factors: those you cannot
change, such as your age, gender, and family history; and those you
can change, such as diet, exercise, and smoking. Health conditions
such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes can be more or
less important as risk factors, depending on how you manage them.
Even if you know all your risk factors, you won't know for sure if
you will get heart disease. However, you will get an idea of your
risk for heart disease and of whether you should be making lifestyle
changes to help reduce that risk.
What is heart failure?
Heart disease that has become a permanent condition is known as congestive
heart failure or late-stage heart disease. Heart failure can come from almost
any type of condition or event that weakens or damages the heart muscle,
including high blood pressure, damaged heart valves, and heart attack.
Despite its frightening name, heart failure can often be successfully treated
through medical therapy or heart transplant. More than 2 million Americans
with late-stage heart disease are alive today.
What is arrhythmia?
Arrhythmia: The heart has its own system that generates electrical impulses
to contract the heart muscles in a coordinated fashion and keep the heart
beating in a regular manner. When the heart's electrical system, also known
as its conduction system, doesn't function properly, the condition is known
as arrhythmia. An arrhythmia can cause the heart beats to be too fast, too
slow, or irregular. This abnormal beating compromises the pumping function
of the heart muscle. Symptoms associated with arrhythmias include fatigue,
exercise intolerance, weakness, dizziness, fainting, or palpitations.
Arrhythmias can come and go, or they can be constant and incessant, and
thus so can their symptoms.
What is angina?
Angina pectoris is the medical term for chest pain due to a coronary heart
condition known as a myocardial ischemia, in which the heart muscle doesn't
receive enough blood for a given level of activity, resulting in pain
in the chest.
If I experience chest pain, am I having a heart attack?
Chest pain can be a warning of heart disease--or it can be a symptom of
a heart attack. Other symptoms are: discomfort or pain going to the neck,
back, jaw, arms, or shoulders; numbness or tingling in one or both arms;
nausea or vomiting; shortness of breath; extreme fatigue; sweating; weakness,
dizziness, or passing out; or indigestion (heartburn). If you or a loved one
ever experience chest pain--especially if one or more of the other symptoms
are also present--seek medical attention immediately by calling 911.
If I am diagnosed with heart disease, what are my treatment options?
Many heart conditions can be treated without surgery. Today's treatments for
heart disease include many new medications and non-surgical procedures such
as balloon angioplasty, atherectomy, and stents. Heart patients can also greatly
improve their health by making positive lifestyle changes.