Understanding Heart Disease
Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, is a phrase used to describe a number of different diseases of the heart like:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Congenital (birth) heart defects
- Weak heart muscles
- Heart valve problems
- Heart infections
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It commonly leads to heart failure and heart attack. But what causes it, and how do you know your risks?
Are You at Risk?
- Do you have diabetes?
- Is your blood pressure high?
- Have you been tested for high cholesterol?
- Do you smoke?
- Are you overweight?
- Are you inactive?
- Is there a family history?
- Are your stress levels high?
A. Vincent Songco, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with ProMedica Physicians says, “If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, your main goal is to keep your number(s) within normal limits. If you're having trouble, your doctor may prescribe medications.” Ask your doctor what numbers are healthy for you.
||Less than 200 mg/dL
||Less than 100 mg/dL
||100 to 129 mg/dL
||Near Optimal / Above Optimal
||130 to 159 mg/dL
||160 to 189 mg/dL
||190 mg/dL and above
||50 mg/dL or higher
||Less than mg/dL
||Less than 120/80 mmHg
||120-129 / 80-89
||More than 130/80
(High blood pressure)
||Less than 35 inches for women
||Less than 40 inches for men
Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Fortunately, many heart diseases are within your control. With the help of your doctor, you can make changes in your lifestyle to improve your heart health and minimize the risk of heart disease.
To lower your risk for heart disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Discuss with your doctor what is healthy for you.
- Increase your physical activity. Your doctor can guide you on beginning an exercise program.
- Kick the habit. Find a stop smoking program to support you.
- Limit your alcohol consumption.
- Eat heart smart foods. Foods rich in good fats: peanuts, olive oil, oatmeal, flaxseed. And foods rich in nutrients: egg whites, berries, kale, and whole grain bread. Avoid foods high in sodium.
- Reduce your stress. Find calming activities and spend time with supportive people.
Talk with your doctor about your lifestyle choices and how they affect your heart health. If you have concerns, explore diagnostic tests and treatments for heart disease.