Wellness Motivation and Education

Understanding Heart Disease and Your Risk

Post by
Hannah Silva
Understanding Heart Disease and Your Risk


In the United States, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for about 1 in every 4 deaths. The costs are even higher; about $219 billion is spent on health care services, medicines, and  lost productivity due to death each year. That is a lot of money spent on medical costs that can be easily prevented.


The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions including blood vessel diseases (coronary artery disease being the most common heart disease), heart arrhythmia, heart defects, heart valve disease, heart infection, and more.  Coronary artery disease is the most common type which affects blood flow to the heart causing heart attacks. Most symptoms of heart disease are silent and not diagnosed until someone experiences an actual heart attack, symptoms of heart failure and arrhythmia, which is oftentimes too late. These symptoms include chest pain, upper back or neck pain, heartburn, nausea, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, swelling of the feet and ankles, and more.


Key risk factors of heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, which elevate your risk of heart disease. About half of the American population has at least one of these risk factors. More risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. Although you cannot prevent aging and family history, these other factors can be prevented with a better healthier lifestyle, including eating habits and physical activity.


Lifestyle changes should be implemented, even more so when you are at a higher risk of heart disease. If you are a smoker, quit smoking. Control your health conditions. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on most days a week. Eat a diet that is low in salt and saturated fat. Maintain a healthy weight. Reduce and manage stress. All of these are completely feasible.


Heart disease is an incredibly serious condition, and it is important to know your risk. It affects the lives of so many each year. Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent heart disease, a disease that takes too many lives each year. It is our number one job to take care of our bodies; so don’t put it aside until it is too late. What will you choose?