February 2023 is American Heart Month & with Heart Disease being the #1 killer disease both Nationwide and Globally, now is an opportunity to pay special attention to your cardiovascular health.
There are three different types of Heart Disease: Coronary, Congenital, and Cardiomyopathy. They are each characterized by a different array of symptoms however, the most frequently reported are chest pain/pressure/tightness, shortness of breath, numbness/weakness/coldness/pain in extremities with narrow blood vessels. The most common type is Coronary, which develops slowly over time due to buildups of arterial plaque. Arteries function to carry oxygenated blood back to the heart, so the plaque makes this task especially difficult. Congenital Heart disease refers to any variations in the heart’s structure that alter the way the blood moves through the heart’s chambers, veins, or arteries, and that have been present since birth. There are many different types of congenital heart diseases whose severity varies from mild cases to those requiring life-long care. Cardiomyopathy refers to a variety of conditions that affect the cardiac tissue which may cause it to thicken, become enlarged, thin, or become filled with substances that are foreign to the heart. With the cardiac tissue’s structure compromised the heart’s ability to pump blood is diminished, leading to arrhythmia, heart failure, or a back-up of blood into the body. Although it does not fall into the category of Congenital Heart Disease, it can either be inherited or acquired. The suggested treatments for Heart Disease include lifestyle changes, cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac surgery, and different kinds of medication therapy.
Because these diseases are so common, the risk factors have been easily identified as: Hypertension, High LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), Diabetes Mellitus, smoking & second-hand exposure, Obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and prolonged or excessive physical inactivity. The risk of contracting a heart disease increases with age, so it is especially important that you quickly develop healthy habits that can be maintained over a long period of time. With some cases being preventable, it would be greatly beneficial to get into a habit of healthier life practices! For those that wish to remain heart healthy, it is highly recommended that you remain physically active & stay at a healthy weight, manage stress, reduce, or quit smoking & stay away from second-hand smoke, become aware and in control of your cholesterol and blood pressure, and finding a balanced, healthy diet that suits your nutritional needs.
“Heart Smart Basics: What to Know to Keep Yours Healthy.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/heart-smart-basics-what-know-keep-yours-healthy.
“Congenital Heart Disease in Adults.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Apr.2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-congenital-heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20355456.
“Heart Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Aug. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353118.
“American Heart Month Toolkits 2023.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, 27 Jan. 2023, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm#:~:text=February%20is%20American%20Heart%20Month,focus%20on%20their%20cardiovascular%20health