Understanding Cardiovascular Conditions
Heart Disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States and the #1 killer of American women. Over one quarter of all deaths result from heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that heart attack prevention begin by age 20. This means assessing your risk factors and working to keep them low. Many first-ever heart attacks or strokes are fatal or disabling, so prevention is critical. For those over 40, or those with multiple risk factors, it's important to calculate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years.
A heart attack itself may be your first symptom of an underlying problem. To diagnose a condition, heart patients may be asked to undergo a number of diagnostic tests and procedures that might include:
- Review of their medical history
- Physical examination
- Electrocardiogram test (ECG or EKG) to discover any abnormalities caused by damage to the heart.
- A blood test to detect abnormal levels of certain enzymes in the bloodstream.
Diagnostic measures can be "non-invasive" and "invasive"
- Non-invasive tests don't involve inserting needles, instruments or fluids into the body.
- Invasive procedures can include a simple needle prick for a blood test or shot, insertion of a tube, device or scope and major surgeries such as open-heart surgery.
A customized treatment plan will be presented to you and your family once the results of your diagnostic tests have been received. Treatments will vary depending on individual test results.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
There are several symptoms that can be indicative of a heart attack, including:
- Chest discomfort — Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body — Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath — This symptom can occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs — May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
NOTE: As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Don't wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number.
Major Factors for Heart Disease
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity
- Unhealthy diet
Ways To Improve Your Heart Health
- Stop Smoking
- Increase your physical activity - exercise, get moving
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Stress Management
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage your cholesterol level
- Manage your blood pressure level
The Internet offers you immediate access to a world of medical and health-related information. Whether you are a physician looking for recently published research or a consumer seeking information about a personal health concern, the internet can be an invaluable tool. This section of our Web site includes links to a number of sites that we believe are both useful and credible. In the months ahead, we will expand this section with new links and site reviews. Please visit us often!