Heart disease is a number of abnormal conditions affecting the heart and its blood vessels. Also called cardiovascular disease, it mainly affects older people and indicates that there are problems with the heart and blood vessels. It has become the leading cause of death in the United States, is a major cause of disability, doesn’t go away, but by working with your doctor, you can live longer and feel better. Types of cardiovascular disease include: Coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type and is the leading cause of heart attacks.
In 2003, almost twice as many women died of cardiovascular disease (both heart disease and stroke) than from all cancers combined. The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to develop cardiovascular disease; however women of all ages should be concerned. African American and Hispanic American/Latina women are more likely to get heart disease because they tend to have more risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, and diabetes than Caucasian women. Women of color are also more likely to die of the disease.
Having diabetes raises your chances of getting heart disease and high levels of triglycerides are linked to the disease in some people. Also Being overweight increases your risk. Chest or arm pain or discomfort can be a symptom of cardiovascular disease and a warning sign of an actual or impending heart attack. If your dad or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mom had one before age 65, you’re more likely to develop heart disease. Birth control pills can pose risks for some women, especially women older than 35; women with high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol and women who smoke.
Almost 700,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year. You can find out more about heart disease by contacting the National Women’s Health Information Center at 1-800-994-9662. The risk of coronary disease can be reduced by taking steps to prevent and control those factors that put people at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and heart attack. The very best ways to prevent heart disease are to control high blood pressure, diabetes or a high cholesterol level and, if you smoke, STOP SMOKING.
What does high cholesterol have to do with heart disease? Cholesterol can clog your arteries and keep your heart from getting the blood it needs. People with high blood cholesterol or high blood triglycerides often have no symptoms, so have your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked regularly. If your levels are high, talk to your doctor about what you can do to lower them. You may be able to lower your levels by eating better and exercising more, if not, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower and bring it under control.
When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it can build up on the walls of your arteries, forming plaque and causing blood clots. There are basically two types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is often called the “bad” type because it can clog the arteries that carry blood to your heart. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good” type because it takes the bad cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. All women age 20 and older should have their blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once every 5 years. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your total cholesterol and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.
Try to eat more foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1%) milk and cheeses, and low-fat or nonfat yogurt, Fruits and vegetables (try for 5 a day), Cereals, breads, rice, and pasta made from whole grains (such as “whole-wheat” or “whole-grain” bread and pasta, rye bread, brown rice, and oatmeal), Eat less organ meats (liver, kidney, brains), Egg yolks, Fats (butter, lard) and oils, Packaged and processed foods.
There are two diets that may help lower your cholesterol: Heart Healthy Diet and Therapeutic Lifestyles Changes (TLC) Diet. Exercise can help lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and raise HDL (“good cholesterol”). If your doctor has prescribed medicine to lower your cholesterol, take it exactly as you have been told to.
Heart disease is not contagious – you can’t catch it like you can the flu or a cold. It is a general term that refers to a variety of acute and chronic medical conditions that affect one or more of the components of the heart. The symptoms you describe to your doctor will help to decide if you need to be tested for heart disease. Your doctor will also check if you have any conditions that can increase your chance of getting the disease. These conditions include: high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol level, menopause in women, family members who have had heart disease at a young age. If you have cardiovascular disease, your angina can be treated by treating the heart disease. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight plus a regular exercise program can help you avoid heart disease.