February is nationally recognized as American Heart Month, and it is designed to encourage Americans to assess their heart health and make vital lifestyle changes. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, not only greatly increases disability among Americans, but also remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., accounting for almost 700,000 fatalities each year, a staggering total which makes up 29 percent of all U.S. deaths. There are many different forms of heart disease.
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease and happens slowly over time. It is the major reason people have heart attacks.
Coronary Artery Disease, or CAD, happens when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. As the buildup grows, less blood can flow through the arteries.
As a result, the heart muscle cannot get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Each year over a million people in the U.S. suffer from heart attacks and nearly half of them die. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the heart’s blood supply, causing permanent heart damage.
Over time, CAD can also weaken the heart muscle and contribute to heart failure and arrhythmias. Heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump blood properly to the rest of the body. Arrhythmias are changes in the normal beating rhythm of the heart.
The risk of coronary heart disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control those adverse factors that put people at greater risk for heart disease and heart attack.
Additionally, knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, calling 9-1-1 right away, and getting to a hospital are crucial to the most positive outcomes after having a heart attack. People who have had a heart attack can also work to reduce their risk of future events; preventative practices could save your life.
According to cardiologist, Javad Tabaee, M.D., of the Queens Long Island Medical Group, Forest Hills Medical Office, some practical methods to reducing the threat of heart disease include, “A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, low-fat dairy products and whole grains with reduced content of saturated fat and sweets avoid products that contain sugar or corn syrup, and remember to control portions.”
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best defenses against cardiovascular disease. The main ingredients to keeping your heart healthy are exercising, eating the right foods and regular check-ups with your doctor to test your cholesterol and blood pressure.
If you are a diabetic it is also important to discuss heart health with your physician as diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Come visit the Queens Long Island Medical Group to find out how you can work with a physician to get Heart Healthy. For more information visit us on the web at QLIMG.com or call us at 1-877-75Q-LIMG (757-5464).