Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of 655,000 deaths per year. The most common type of heart disease is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), which occurs when plaque builds up in the blood vessels and arteries leading up to the heart. While CAD is the most common type, other heart diseases can include heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart defects from birth (congenital heart defects), heart valve disease, and heart infection.
The scary part about heart disease is that you may not be diagnosed with a form of it, until after you’ve had a heart attack or stroke.
What are my risk factors?
Knowing which conditions increase your chances of developing heart disease allows you to take control of your health. While some risk factors may not be controllable such as birth defects, your age, or your family health history, you may control other factors. These factors may be the outcome of an unhealthy lifestyle but may be reversible with help from your doctor and a change in habits. Leading causes of heart disease include:
- High cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- High blood pressure
- Physically inactive
What are the signs of heart disease?
Knowing how to identify possible heart diseases could be the difference between life and death. If you notice intense chest pains including tightness or pressure, in addition to sudden shortness of breath, and numbing in the arms and legs, it’s time to call your doctor. Other signs can include:
- Neck, jaw, shoulder, back, and stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Unusual fatigue
How to Reduce Your Risk
While some risk factors such as age and genetics can’t be changed, living a healthier lifestyle can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Fortunately, there are ways you can reduce your risk including:
Eat a healthy diet. Cutting down on sugars, saturated fats, and foods high in sodium can reduce the possibility of plaque build-up in arteries and blood vessels. Replacing those salty foods with fruits and veggies can help you feel better, lose excess weight, and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Be physically active. Moving around more helps your body burn off the calories your body was storing and can build a stronger heart. In addition to eating healthier, it can also lead to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes can raise your blood pressure and can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Quitting leads to healthier lungs as well which can help you be more physically active and lessen fatigue.
Take care of your stress. There’s no denying that a stressful day at home or work can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This increase though could prove fatal with a heart attack or stroke. Managing stress can include exercising, meditation, or focusing on a calming hobby.
Get a Heart-Health Panel. Scheduling a basic or comprehensive Heart Health Panel from ARCpoint Labs can help you get a better understanding of your overall heart health. From blood count and lipid levels to cardiometabolic and glucose levels, this panel can identify areas of concern without needing a doctor’s order.
Overall, heart disease impacts people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. With a variety of risk factors and signs, understanding your heart health can help you take action before it’s too late. With convenient ARCpoint Labs testing options, schedule an appointment at your closest location and find which test is right for you.