The American Heart Month
When we think of the February holidays, Valentine’s Day comes to mind. We think of our loved ones, prepare cards and gifts, take our partner for a romantic dinner or even on a beautiful getaway. The affairs of the heart are especially important this month, particularly as it’s also the American Heart Month, so let’s make sure we treat our hearts with utmost care – both romantically AND physically.
If we want our love life to flourish and be an important part of our existence, we need to take care of our hearts in a more physical way than making sure we choose the right partner and avoid getting our hearts “broken”. This vital organ is placed in the center of our bodies – and it controls our emotions. When we feel excited, it beats faster, and when we are stressed, we hold our chest. If we want to make sure we live long and healthy lives, the most important organ to take care of is our heart.
Listen to your Heart
According to the American Heart Association, whilst half of American adults suffer from heart disease, 72 percent of Americans do not consider themselves at risk. So the first step you ought to take toward good heart health is to become aware of your own risk for heart disease. You’ll need to gather some information to create your personal “heart profile”.
You can assess your condition and risk factors together with your physician. Your doctor can be an important partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health. The doctors of internal medicine in Raleigh, from Schneider Medical Group, support you and your family in your efforts to improve your heart health.
This short video by WebMD can help you assess your “heart age”. Are you young at heart?
Heart disease risk factors
Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more prone to developing a disease. They can also increase the possibility of an existing disease getting worse. According to the American College of Cardiology, the main risk factors of cardiovascular diseases are as follows:
- Hypertension, Adults (45.6%)
- Obesity, Adults (39.6%) Youth (18.5%)
- Cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein) ≥130 mg/dl, Adults (28.5%)
- Smoking, Adults (15.5%)
- Chronic Kidney Disease (14.8%)
- Diabetes Mellitus, Diagnosed (9.8%)
- Diabetes Mellitus, Undiagnosed (3.7%)
Other important risk factors are:
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive alcohol use
- Having a family history of early heart disease
- Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
You may decide that since you have just one or two risk factors for heart disease (for example you have hypertension and smoke), then you are safe. Unfortunately not. But having more than one risk factor is especially serious because risk factors tend to increase each other’s effects. That’s why it’s so important to take our heart disease risks seriously, and do whatever we can to reduce them.
The most common and dangerous cardiovascular (heart) conditions
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One in every four deaths in the United States is caused by cardiovascular disease, a total of 647,000 Americans each year, which means that somebody dies from heart disease every 37 seconds.
There are many different heart conditions and problems that are called heart or cardiovascular disease.
- Coronary heart disease
This is the most common heart disease. It is caused when the heart’s blood vessels – the coronary arteries – become narrowed or obstructed and can’t provide sufficient blood to the heart. It can lead to a heart attack.
Angina is a pain or discomfort in your chest, arm, neck, stomach or jaw that happens when the blood supply to your heart becomes restricted because your arteries are clogged.
- Heart attack
Also known as myocardial infarction (MI) – occurs when the blood supply to a part of your heart is completely blocked. This is most commonly caused by a blood clot formed in a coronary artery.
- Heart failure
If your heart can’t work effectively, it cannot meet your body’s demand for blood and oxygen, and your body develops various symptoms, like fatigue and shortness of breath.
Abnormal heart rhythms, caused by electrical disruption of signals within your heart.
- Congenital heart conditions
Congenital heart condition happens when there’s a defect within the structure of the heart of a developing fetus while inside the mother’s womb.
Prevention is better than cure
Knowing the risk factors, controlling your blood pressure and getting regular check-ups is important, but prevention is vital. If you listen to your heart regularly, it will tell you that blood will flow through your veins more easily if it gets help from you in the form of a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise, diet, good night’s sleep and managing your stress levels may seem easy enough, but more often than not, we simply forget to add them to our daily schedule. Sometimes changing your routine can be the difference between suffering from a heart condition or leading a healthy life.
Work with your internal medicine doctor in Raleigh to prepare a plan that suits your lifestyle, your home environment, and your culture. Working with a doctor may help with making changes in your diet, physical activity, managing other medical conditions, and helping you quit smoking or drinking.
Learn more about Schneider Medical Group internal medicine in Raleigh
If you think you might be at risk of heart disease, don’t hesitate to pay our experts a visit. In order to diagnose a possible condition, your doctor can perform several tests, including chest X-rays, coronary angiograms, electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG), and exercise stress tests.
Dr. Schneider’s office provides extended scheduling hours for office visits and a direct 24-hour line of communication every day. Book your appointment with our doctor in internal medicine, Raleigh now! For inquiries, call us at 919-301-8971.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.