Preventing Heart Disease

Heart Disease and Stroke Are Often Preventable
The good news is that many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. The right lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk. That’s why DHHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are leading the Million Hearts® national initiative. Federal, state and local agencies and private-sector partners also provide support for the campaign.

Million Hearts encourages Americans to make lifestyle choices that could decrease their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke:

  • Use aspirin when appropriate
  • Control blood pressure
  • Manage high cholesterol
  • Stop smoking
  • Lower sodium consumption
  • Lower trans fat consumption

The Role of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke and has been linked to dementia, according to the CDC. Nearly half of American adults have hypertension, higher blood pressure than normal. And you know what? About 75 percent of adults with high blood pressure do not have their condition under control. You should have your physician check you and your loved ones regularly for this often undiagnosed and untreated disease.

What Exactly Happens During a Heart Attack or Stroke?
A heart attack happens when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. Clots that cut off blood flow completely can cause part of the heart muscle to die. If you’ve had a heart attack, it is critical that you make some changes in the lifestyle that led to the condition. A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain — not the heart — is blocked by a clot. In this case, the lack of blood and oxygen may damage brain cells. If this happens, depending on how long oxygen and blood were blocked, a person may have permanent brain damage. This can lead to long-term disabilities, like not being able to walk or talk. Strokes can also be fatal.

What Are the Signs of a Heart Attack?
The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to heart attacks. Some heart attacks may happen suddenly, with intense pain. In these cases, no one questions what’s happening. But many heart attacks start slowly with only mild pain or discomfort. Sometimes people aren’t sure what’s wrong, and they may wait too long before getting help. That can increase the damage to the heart muscle.

Know the major symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, stomach or back
  • Feeling weak, dizzy, light-headed or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea (an additional symptom in women)
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue

View the full article, Embrace a Health Heart: Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes.

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