Heart Disease – Causes and Risks
by Karry Morris MSN RN-BC
Cardiovascular Nurse, Medical Center Hospital
Heart disease is the #1 killer in the nation, causing approximately one in three deaths every year. It is a great time to evaluate your own risk and take steps to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. If you have conditions that can contribute to the development of heart disease, keeping those under control can greatly reduce your risk:
High blood pressure:
110/70 is considered perfect blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure around this range can often be achieved with proper treatment. If you have high blood pressure, see your doctor regularly, take your medicine faithfully (even if you feel good) and keep an eye on your blood pressure. We suggest having a cuff at home and checking your blood pressure often, recording these results for your doctor.
Many people have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Many know they have it and don’t treat it. This can be a deadly mistake.
If you do not know if you have high blood pressure, find out! They call hypertension the “Silent Killer” for a reason.
The fluctuations of blood sugar associated with diabetes cause changes within the arteries that increases risk for heart disease. Keeping your blood sugar under control and reducing fluctuations can help reduce risk.
Like blood pressure, if you are diabetic, it is recommended you check your blood sugar often, keep a record and work with your doctor to help keep your sugar levels under control.
Overweight and Obesity:
Not keeping your weight under control not only increases your overall risk of heart disease, but it also contributes to development of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other diseases.
Keeping weight under control by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and reduce heart attack risk.
Reduce your risk by:
- Seeing your doctor regularly and take any medicine your doctor prescribes
- Eat right and exercise
- Keep your conditions under control – diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Knowing your numbers is great place to start. Make an appointment with your doctor to undergo testing and evaluate your personal risk for heart disease. Those with heart disease in their immediate family are especially at risk and should take proactive steps to reduce their own risk.
Lastly, be able to recognize an emergency and act!
Signs of heart attack include:
- Pain, pressure, squeezing or fullness in the chest
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness
If you think you or someone else is having a heart attack, always CALL 911!
Driving yourself to the emergency room is not only dangerous, but can be deadly.
It is also a good idea to learn CPR, especially if your loved ones are at risk.