Written by Michele Wheat
Heart disease involves any physical ailment of the heart or circulatory system. Heart disease typically causes some type of disruption of healthy heart function involving the delivery of blood to all body parts. Some people are born with heart disease, which falls under the category of a congenital heart condition. Other people develop heart disease at some point during their lives. Heart disease may be heritable, which means that it passes down through a family. With the wide variety of factors and issues involved with heart disease, people benefit from learning about this health issue. Awareness of the disease and its risks may help some people reduce their likelihood of developing it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that approximately 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. Worldwide, heart disease claims the lives of 17.3 million people every year. The American Heart Association forecasts that this number will grow substantially by 2030, mounting to 23.6 million deaths per year. Heart disease tops the list of causes of death for men and women. Approximately 85.6 million people in the United States have some type of heart disease or illness stemming from a stroke. Current estimates suggest that one American dies from heart disease approximately every 90 seconds.
A number of different types of heart problems can afflict people. Ischemic heart disease involves issues that result from narrowed coronary arteries. These issues occur due to decreased blood flow to the heart. Hypertensive heart disease occurs from high blood pressure. Regardless of the cause of high blood pressure, it can lead to an overworked heart and blood vessels. Inflammatory heart disease involves an inflammation of the heart muscle, membrane sac, or inner lining. Inflammation may occur from illness or from toxins. Rheumatic heart disease is the result of rheumatic fever. Rheumatic heart disease could damage heart valves, which may lead to a weakened heart muscle.
Maintaining optimal health usually involves living a lifestyle that will also help prevent heart disease. For example, eating a healthy diet and exercising daily have a number of benefits. People who follow these guidelines often find it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Avoiding obesity is one effective way to prevent heart disease because extra weight makes the heart work harder. A healthy diet focuses on complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a limited amount of healthier poly- and monosaturated fats. Following these guidelines gives the body the nutrients it needs for optimal health while minimizing foods with large amounts of sugar and fat that could lead to illness. Regular exercise is also part of a healthy lifestyle. Physicians recommend that people get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week for good health. Regular exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight, and it also helps keep the heart and circulation system strong. Smoking cigarettes is harmful to the body because it damages the lungs and increases people's risk of heart disease. Just the act of quitting smoking quickly cuts a person's risk of having a heart attack.
Someone diagnosed with heart disease will have a variety of treatment options, depending on various factors. Doctors usually suggest lifestyle changes such as modifying the diet, exercising, and quitting smoking. Medication can help with specific problems such as narrowed arteries, opening up the arteries to allow increased blood flow. Some medications involve negative side effects, and these drugs do not always work effectively for every type of heart condition. Surgical procedures include angioplasty and/or the insertion of a stent into an artery. Angioplasty involves the insertion of a small balloon to unblock an artery. A surgeon may then insert a stent to keep the artery open.
A number of organizations exist with a focus on heart disease and raising awareness of this illness. Educating the public about the risks can be an effective way to help prevent people from developing the disease. Organizations may plan fundraising events to assist with research and raise awareness. These events may involve the sale of items such as wristbands, T-shirts, tote bags, and other accessories.
Heart Disease Statistics
Different Heart Problems
Preventing Heart Disease
Treatment of Heart Disease
Heart Health Organizations