Do You Have Heart Disease?
What Everyone Needs to Know About Heart Disease
Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.1 You could be at risk without knowing it.
Take steps to take care of yourself and your heart health. By increasing your knowledge, you can be sure that you receive the treatment you need.
Did you know?
- Your gender, age, ethnicity, or race can add to your chance of developing heart disease. Heart disease causes more deaths in Americans of both genders and all racial and ethnic groups than any other disease.1More women than men die of heart disease, although more men have heart attacks.2
- As you age, your risk for heart disease increases.2
- At age 40, the lifetime risk for developing heart disease is 2 in 3 for men and more than 1 in 2 for women.2
- Black Americans, American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and Latino Americans die at earlier ages from heart disease.3
How to Find Out If You May Have a Problem
Of course, it is normal for your heart rate to vary widely during the course of a day, depending on whether you're active or resting. For example, you can expect your heart rate to increase when you are exercising, but not when you are sitting still. What is not normal is a heart rate that is fast or slow because of a problem with the conduction system. If you have certain symptoms, your doctor may want to test your conduction system.
Conduction problems like arrhythmias can sometimes go unnoticed.
Other times they can cause the following symptoms:
- Reduced energy levels
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations (feeling your heart skip a beat or pound quickly)
- Chest pain
The good news is that tests can show if you have conduction problems. That's why you should check with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. You know your body well enough to tell when something doesn't feel right.
To check for problems, your doctor might recommend one or more tests. But keep in mind that if you are referred for testing, it doesn't automatically mean that you have conduction problems. These tests can also help determine if you don't have conduction problems.
Heart Healthy Tips
Take charge of your heart health.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Don't smoke and avoid second hand smoke.1
People who smoke are up to six times more likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers. If you smoke, QUIT!
Aim for a healthy weight.1
If you don't know your ideal weight, ask your doctor. The more overweight you are — the higher your risk for heart disease.
Make a commitment to be more physically active. Every day, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as taking a brisk walk, raking, dancing, light weight lifting, house cleaning or gardening.
Eat for heart health.1
Choose a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and cholesterol. Be sure to include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Know your numbers.1
Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL, triglycerides), and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.
Please note: this information in not a substitute for medical care. As always, you should consult your doctor or health care provider.
For more information on knowing your risk of heart disease, and what you can do about it, go to Close the Gap, an educational initiative from Boston Scientific.
Next: Are You Heart Smart? >>
2. AHA. Heart and Stroke Statistics - 2010 Update, American Heart Association
3. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) "Disparities in Premature Deaths from Heart Disease—50 States including the District of Columbia." 2001 CDC MMWR Weekly, February 20, 2004.