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About Heart Disease
Welcome to the Heart Disease Health Channel by eMedTV. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. The term "heart disease" refers to diseases that occur in the heart and its blood vessel system. While there are many different types of heart disease, the most common is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease). Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become clogged or blocked by a buildup of plaque on the inside wall of the arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis). Clogged arteries can keep the heart from getting enough blood and oxygen and can cause chest pain (angina). If a blood clot forms, it can suddenly cut off blood flow in the artery and cause a heart attack.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
Risk factors are things or situations that increase your risk for developing a health condition. While some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, there are several you can minimize or eliminate. Risk factors for heart disease you cannot control include a family history of early heart disease.
Risk factors for heart disease that you can do something about include:
- Having high blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese
- Having high cholesterol
- Being physically inactive
- Having diabetes.
What Are the Symptoms of Heart Disease?
Symptoms of heart disease occur when plaque buildup in the coronary arteries causes a reduction in blood flow to the heart. It often takes years for this to happen; you can have heart disease for many years and experience no symptoms. Some people experience their first heart disease symptoms in the form of a heart attack. Common symptoms of heart disease include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and faster heartbeats. Other common symptoms include dizziness and pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back.
How Is Heart Disease Treated?
Treatment for heart disease may involve lifestyle changes, medications, certain procedures, or a combination of these things. Lifestyle changes that can play a role in heart disease treatment include losing weight, quitting smoking, and following a healthy diet. Examples of medications used to treat the disease include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, and nitrates. Procedures that may be employed to treat the condition include coronary angioplasty, plaque removal, stent placement, and open heart surgery.
Is There a Cure for Heart Disease?
While many websites claim to have the "cure for heart disease," there is no such thing. Once you get heart disease, you'll have it for life. Researchers are working to find a cure, but there is no expectation that one will be found soon. In the meantime, people with heart disease can minimize its effects by making lifestyle changes, seeing the doctor regularly, and possibly taking medications. People who don't have heart disease should focus on prevention strategies, which include eliminating or managing the risk factors that can be controlled.
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