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Facts on Heart Disease:

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. But it’s important to note that women are more likely to experience the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

What to do during a heart attack:

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Do not wait to call for help. Dial 9-1-1, make sure to follow the operator’s instructions and get to a hospital right away.
  • Do not drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital unless you have no other choice.
  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.

Risk factors for heart disease:

  • Your age. Simply getting older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle, which contribute to heart disease.
  • Your sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. However, the risk for a woman increases after menopause.
  • Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
  • Smoking. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
  • Poor diet. A diet that's high in fat, salt and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
  • High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
  • High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis. Plaques can be caused by a high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as "bad" cholesterol, or a low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as "good" cholesterol.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
  • Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors, as well.
  • High stress. Unrelieved stress in your life may damage your arteries as well as worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
  • Poor hygiene. Not regularly washing your hands and failure to establish other habits that can help prevent viral or bacterial infections can put you at risk of heart infections, especially if you already have an underlying heart condition. Poor dental health also may contribute to heart disease.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

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