Heart Disease: Risk Factors, Prevention

Heart disease is the main reason of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the United States, 1 in every 4 deaths occurs due to heart disease. That’s approximately 610,000 people who die from this condition every year.

Heart disease doesn’t distinguish. It’s the major cause of death for several populations, including white and Black people. Almost half of Americans have the risk of heart disease, and the numbers are increasing. Learn more about the increase in heart disease rates.

While heart disease can be fatal, it’s also can be prevented in most of the people. By choosing healthy lifestyle habits early, you can potentially live longer with a healthier heart.

Heart disease encloses a huge range of cardiovascular problems.There are several diseases and conditions that are included by heart disease. Following are such types:

  • Arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a heart rhythm irregularities.
  • Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries due to cholesterol plaque deposition.
  • Cardiomyopathy. This condition weakens or hardens heart muscles.
  • Congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects are heart abnormalities that are present at birth.
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries walls. It’s sometimes called ischemic heart disease.
  • Heart infections. Heart infections may be caused by bacteriaviruses, or parasites.

The term cardiovascular disease is associated with the heart conditions that specifically affect the blood vessels.

Different types of heart disease may result in a variety of different symptoms.


Arrhythmias are irregular heart rhythms. The symptoms may depend on the type of arrhythmia – heartbeats that are too fast(tachycardia) or too slow(bradycardia). Symptoms of an arrhythmia include:

Shortness of breath

Chest pain

Coronary artery disease (CAD)

CAD is plaque deposition in the arteries that move oxygen-rich blood through the heart and lungs. Symptoms of CAD include:


Cardiomyopathy is a disease that causes the muscles of the heart to grow larger and turn hard, thick, or weak. Symptoms of this condition include:

  • swollen legs, especially ankles and feet.
  • rapid pulse

Heart infections

The term heart infection may be used to describe conditions such as endocarditis or myocarditis.

Women often experience different signs and symptoms of heart disease than men, specifically with regards to CAD and other cardiovascular diseases.

  • Lungs congestion or coughing
  • According to 2003 study suggested that the symptoms most often seen in women who’d experienced a heart attack. The top symptoms didn’t include “classic” heart attack symptoms such as chest pain and tingling sensations. Instead, the study reported that women were more likely to say they experienced anxietysleep disturbances, and unusual fatigue.

About 80 percent of the women in the study reported having these symptoms for at least one month before their heart attack occurred.

Symptoms of heart disease in women can also be confused with other conditions, such as depressionmenopause, and anxiety.

Congenital heart defect causes

This heart disease occurs during the development of fetus inside the womb. Some heart defects may be serious can be diagnosed and treated early. Some may also left undiagnosed for many years.

Your heart’s structure can also change according to the age. This can create a heart defect that may cause many complications.

Cardiomyopathy causes

There are several types of cardiomyopathy and each type is the result of a separate condition.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy. It’s not clear that what causes this most common type of cardiomyopathy, which leads to a weakening of heart. It may be the result of previous damage to the heart by drugs, infections, and heart attack. It may also be an inherited condition or the result of uncontrolled blood pressure.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This type of heart disease leads to a thicker heart muscle. Usually it is inherited.
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy. It’s unclear what causes this type of cardiomyopathy, which results in rigid heart walls. Possible causes may include scar tissue formation and a type of abnormal protein growth called as amyloidosis.

Heart infection causes

Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the most common causes of heart infections. Uncontrolled infections in the body can be harmful for the heart if they’re not treated properly.

There are many risk factors for heart disease. Some are preventable, and others aren’t. The CDC says that around 47 percent

If you have diabetes, it’s essential to control your glucose to control your risk of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that people who have both hypertension and diabetes double their risk for cardiovascular disease.

Risk factors you can’t control

Although these risk factors are not under control, you may be able to monitor their effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, a family history of CAD is especially concerning if it involved a:

Non-Hispanic blacks, non-Hispanic whites, and people of Asian or Pacific Island heritage have a higher risk than Native Alaskans or Native Americans. Also, men are at greater risk for heart disease than women. In fact, the CDC estimates between 70 and 89 percent of all cardiac events in the United States occur in men.

Finally, your age can increase your risk for heart disease. From 20 year to 59 year of age, men and women are at a similar risk for CAD. After 60 years of age, however, the percentage of affected men rises between 19.9 and 32.2 percent. Only 9.7 to 18.8 percent of women at that age are affected.

Your doctor may order several types of tests and evaluations for the diagnosis of cardiac disease. Some of these tests can be performed before you ever show any signs of heart disease. Others may be used to look for possible causes of symptoms when they develop.

Physical exams and blood tests

The first thing is done by your doctor to perform a physical exam and take all the of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. Then they’ll want to know your family and personal medical history. Genetics can also play a role in some heart diseases. If you have a close family member with heart disease, share this with your doctor.

Blood tests are frequently performed. As they can help your doctor to see your cholesterol levels and look for signs of inflammation.

A variety of noninvasive tests may be used to diagnose heart disease.

Non invasive tests

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). This test can monitor your heart’s electrical activity and help your doctor to find any abnormalities.
  • Echocardiogram. This ultrasound test can give your doctor a close view of your heart’s structure.
  • Stress test. This test is performed while you complete a strenuous activity, such as walking, running, or riding a stationary bike. During the test, your doctor can monitor your heart’s activity in response to changes in physical exertion.
  • Carotid ultrasound. To get a detailed ultrasound of your carotid arteries, your doctor may order this ultrasound test.
  • Holter monitor. Your doctor may ask you to wear this heart rate monitor for 24 to 48 hours. It allows them to get an extended view of your heart’s activity.
  • Tilt table test. If you’ve recently experienced fainting or lightheadedness when standing up or sitting down, your doctor may order this test. During it, you’re strapped to a table and slowly raised or lowered while they monitor your heart rateblood pressure, and oxygen levels.
  • CT scan. This imaging test gives highly-detailed X-ray image of the heart.
  • Heart MRI. Like CT scan, a heart MRI can provide a very detailed image of heart and blood vessels.

Invasive tests

If a physical examination, blood tests, and noninvasive tests doesn’t give any conclusion, your doctor may want to look inside your body to determine what’s causing any unusual symptoms. Invasive tests may include:

  • Cardiac catheterization and coronary angiography. Your doctor may insert a catheter into your heart through the groin and arteries. The catheter will help them perform tests involving the heart and blood vessels. Once this catheter enters in your heart,doctor can perform a coronary angiography. During a coronary angiography, a dye is injected into the arteries and capillaries around the heart. The dye helps to produce a highly detailed X-ray image.
  • Electrophysiology study. During this test, your doctor may attach electrodes to your heart with the help of a catheter.
  • When the electrodes are in place, your doctor can send electric pulses through and record your t heart responses

Treatment for heart disease mainly depends on the type of heart disease you have as well as how far it has advanced. For example, if you have a heart infection, your doctor is likely to prescribe an antibiotic.

If you have plaque deposition, they may take a two approach: prescribe a medication that can help l

your risk for additional plaque buildup and look to help to reduce plaque buildup and make you adapt healthier lifestyle.

Treatment for heart disease falls into three main categories:

Lifestyle changes

Healthy lifestyle can help you prevent heart disease. They can also help you treat the condition and prevent it from getting worse. Your diet is one of the main areas you may seek to change.

low-sodium, low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables may help you reduce your risk for heart disease complications. One example is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.

Likewise, getting regular exercise and quitting tobacco consumption can help to treat heart disease. Also you should reduce your alcohol consumption.


A medication may be essential to treat certain types of heart disease. Your doctor can prescribe a medication to cure or control your heart disease and to slow or stop the risk for complications. The exact medication you’re prescribed depends on the type of heart disease you have. Read more about the drugs that may be prescribed to treat heart disease.

Surgery or invasive procedures

In some cases of heart disease, surgery or a medical procedure is essential to treat the condition and prevent worsening of symptoms.

For example, if you have arteries that are blocked entirely or almost completely by plaque deposition, your doctor may insert a stent in your artery to return normal blood flow. The procedure your doctor will perform depends on the type of heart disease you have and the severity of damage to your heart.

To help you take good care of your heart, by managing high blood pressure, cholesterol,proper nutrition, and more.

Some risk factors for heart disease can’t be controlled or prevented, like your family history. But it’s still important to reduce your chance of developing heart disease by reducing the risk factors that you can control.

Aim for healthy blood pressure and cholesterol numbers

Having normal blood pressure and cholesterol ranges are some of the first steps you can take for a healthy heart. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A healthy blood pressure is considered less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, which is often expressed as “120 over 80” or “120/80 mm Hg.” Systolic is the measurement of pressure while the heart is contracting. Diastolic is the measurement when the heart is resting. Higher numbers indicate that the heart is working too hard to pump blood.

Your ideal cholesterol level will depend on your risk factors and heart health history. If you’re at a high risk of heart disease, have diabetes, or have already had a heart attack, your target levels will be below those of people with low or average risk.

Find ways to manage stress

As simple as it sounds, managing stress can also lower your risk for heart disease. Don’t underestimate chronic stress as a contributor to heart disease. Speak with your doctor if you’re frequently overwhelmed, anxious, or are coping with stressful life events, such as moving, changing jobs, or going through a divorce.

Embrace a healthier lifestyle

Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly are also important. Make sure to avoid foods high in saturated fat and salt. Doctors recommend 30 to 60 minutes of exercise

on most days for a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. Check with your doctor to make sure you can safely meet these guidelines, especially if you already have a heart condition.

If you smoke, stop. The nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for oxygenated blood to circulate. This can lead to atherosclerosis.

If you’ve recently received a heart disease diagnosis, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to stay as healthy as possible. You can prepare for your appointment by creating a detailed list of your everyday habits. Possible topics include:

  • any family history of heart disease or stroke

Seeing your doctor regularly is just one lifestyle habit you can take up. If you do, any potential issues can be caught as early as possible. Certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure, may be addressed with medications to lower your risk of heart disease.

Your doctor may also provide tips for:

Making these changes all at once might not be possible. Discuss with your healthcare provider which lifestyle changes will have the biggest impact. Even small steps toward these goals will help keep you at your healthiest.

Hypertensive heart disease is a condition caused by chronic high blood pressure. Hypertension requires your heart to pump harder in order to circulate your blood through your body. This increased pressure can lead to several types of heart problems, including a thick, enlarged heart muscle and narrowed arteries.

The extra force your heart must use to pump blood can make your heart muscles harder and thicker. This can impact how well your heart pumps. Hypertensive heart disease can make arteries less elastic and more rigid. That can slow blood circulation and prevent your body from getting the oxygen-rich blood it needs.

Hypertensive heart disease is the top cause of death for people with high blood pressure, so it’s important you begin to treat high blood pressure as soon as you can. Treatment can stop complications and possibly prevent additional damage.

Heart disease can’t be cured or reversed. It requires a lifetime of treatment and careful monitoring. Many of the symptoms of heart disease can be relieved with medications, procedures, and lifestyle changes. When these methods fail, coronary intervention or bypass surgery might be used.

If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms of heart disease or if you have risk factors for heart disease, make an appointment to see your doctor. Together, the two of you can weigh your risks, conduct a few screening tests, and make a plan for staying healthy.

It’s important to take charge of your overall health now, before a diagnosis may be made. This is especially true if you have a family history of heart disease or conditions that increase your risk for heart disease. Taking care of your body and your heart can pay off for many years to come.

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