Still the number one cause of death in the United States, still responsible for the death of nearly 620,000 Americans every year, and still the cause of over 16.7 million doctors’ offices and hospitals annually, heart disease is not going away simply because we wish it would.
The American obesity epidemic, coupled with poor lifestyle choices (such as lack of exercise) and genetics is keeping heart disease at the top of the charts in what’s making men and women old far before their times. And yet, there’s so much the general public seems to not know concerning this dangerous disease.
For instance, approximately 12% of the population has been diagnosed with heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease), with incidence leaning slightly more towards men than women. In simplest terms, plaque deposits build up in the arteries, restricting blood flow and sometimes even stopping – causing a heart attack or stroke. Over time, the condition worsens, requiring surgical intervention, ongoing medical care and significant lifestyle changes to manage the disease and its side effects. Eventually, the heart is either weakened or stressed beyond its capacity and either a new heart (transplant) must be found, or death soon follows.
On a positive note, there are more resources available than ever before to help change the diagnosis and outcome of cardiovascular disease. Simply knowing your risk is a huge first step in the right direction. Besides that, a diet low in saturated and trans fats (but not devoid of healthy unsaturated fats), at least 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week, a drug- and cigarette-free lifestyle, diligent dental care, and limited consumption of caffeine can all help prevent heart disease as well as manage an existing diagnosis. With time, and a little discipline, the outlook can be quite positive and perhaps even defy the statistics.