Heart disease is one of the most serious and most common medical conditions that people in the United States deal with. If left untreated, it can easily be life-threatening. Heart disease encompasses multiple forms of cardiovascular illness, but the most common is the buildup of plaque and clots in the bloodstream that lead to heart attacks. Fortunately, heart disease can be managed and even prevented if you’re aware that you have it and are willing to make necessary lifestyle changes. If you think you might have heart disease or have experienced any of the symptoms below, please contact your doctor or call 911 immediately.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
One of the most common heart disease wake-up calls that people receive comes in the form of a heart attack. Some of the symptoms are as follows:
- Chest pain or discomfort (tightness or squeezing)
- Upper back and neck pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Extreme discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Upper arm pain
People having heart attacks may not feel all of these symptoms, but if multiple signs are present, contact 911 immediately. Also, women are more likely than men to experience shortness of breath, nausea and back pain as symptoms. A heart attack may also be a sign of a much more serious problem, and many people who experience and survive a heart attack will need to go on medication, have surgery or make changes to their diet and activity level.
Another common form of heart disease is irregular heartbeat, also known as arrhythmia. Individuals who have this condition may experience a fluttering, pounding or skipping feeling in their chest, known as palpitations. Occasional or infrequent palpitations are often harmless, but if they occur frequently, they may be a sign of a developing or underlying heart condition. If this problem becomes regular and severe and you feel unwell or uncomfortable, call emergency services. Certain kinds of medication or medical procedures can help manage this condition.
Heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is another common form of heart disease. It occurs when the heart has become unable to pump blood as effectively or powerfully as it needs to. The result is that not enough oxygen or nutrients get delivered throughout your body. People who experience heart failure may feel symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen or neck veins
If you experience or have experienced any of these symptoms in the past, contact your doctor right away so you can gain awareness of your wellness and what you need to do to prevent further issues.
Heart Disease Prevention
Heart disease can be prevented in multiple ways. First, simply being aware of your risk level can help you be aware of the choices you need to make to avoid it. Your doctor can help you determine this. Additionally, if you struggle with high blood pressure, obesity or a dependence on alcohol, tobacco or drugs, making efforts to treat these conditions can go a long way toward reducing your risk. Chronic conditions like diabetes can also increase your risk, so properly managing any pre-existing conditions can help reduce it.
If you don’t have heart disease but know you may be at risk for developing it, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about some of the dietary changes you can make. For instance, a diet low in sodium, cholesterol and fat but high in fiber and protein can help your heart stay strong and prevent the buildup of plaque in your veins. Additionally, regular exercise, which can be as simple as walking for thirty minutes a day, will help your heart and veins stay healthy.
Treatment for Heart Disease
People who get regular physical examinations from their primary care physician are most likely to catch heart disease early. Getting tested routinely and looking for key warning signs can help you catch a health problem before it arises or as it develops. Additionally, if other people in your family have had heart disease, or if your particular race or ethnic group is more likely to have it, you can work to make lifestyle changes that reduce your risk. Some of these lifestyle changes include:
- Being physically active on a regular basis
- Eating a balanced diet
- Avoiding smoking
- Consuming alcohol in moderation
If you already have heart disease, there are multiple forms of medicine that a doctor can prescribe to help you manage it. Additionally, if your situation has advanced to a critical stage, surgery could be necessary, and your doctor may recommend implanting a pacemaker or heart catheter to help your heart function normally.
Talking to your doctor about heart disease may be challenging, but the more your doctor knows about your concerns, the better. If you go to an appointment to discuss your potential risk for heart disease, come prepared with information on your lifestyle and wellness habits, relatives who’ve had it before you and any symptoms you may already be facing. Your doctor may also ask you a series of simple questions about your habits and your daily routine, and may order some medical testing. From there, you and your doctor can work together to determine your risk and if you need to make any changes in your life to prevent heart disease.
We’re Here to Help
Because heart disease is such a common health condition that many people struggle with, we’re ready to help you find the right solutions that will help you keep it at bay. We want you to live as healthy and empowered a life as you’re able, and we’re prepared to walk with you every step of the way. Contact us today to set up an appointment!