Heart disease is the term used to describe a variety of conditions and diseases that may affect your heart. Some examples are coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems and congenital defects. Some heart disease results from viral or bacterial infections, or from an allergic or toxic reaction to medications. Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 80 million adults in America have one or more types of cardiovascular disease. About every 25 seconds, an American suffers a coronary event, and about every minute, someone dies from one. Heart disease is responsible for more deaths than all forms of cancer combined.
Getting older increases the risk of narrowed arteries and weakened heart muscle. Smoking, poor diet and leading a sedentary life can contribute to the development of heart disease. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes also are risk factors. Unrelieved stress can lead to high blood pressure or damaged arteries, and can lead directly or indirectly to heart disease.
It is a misconception that outside factors such as diet and exercise are the only causes of heart disease. There are many forms of heart disease that are congenital or hereditary. You can't prevent these types of heart disease.
Coronary heart disease is the largest single killer of both men and women in America. About 82 percent of CHD fatalities occur in people age 65 and older. Coronary heart disease is also the leading cause of premature, permanent disability from the labor force in the United States.
Although you can't change risk factors such as age, family history and congenital defects, you can prevent or improve many forms of heart disease through lifestyle changes. These include making healthy eating choices, maintaining a healthy body weight and participating in regular physical exercise. It's important to limit saturated fat and sodium in your diet. Other ways to prevent heart problems include quitting smoking, controlling high blood pressure and lowering your total cholesterol level.
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