Disorders of the Heart
Cardiovascular disease is a broad term referring to all disorders of the heart, as well as those within the entire circulatory system ("cardio" means heart, "vascular" means blood vessels), from head to toe. It includes coronary artery disease, valve disease, disease of the heart muscle, electrical disturbances of the heart rhythm, high blood pressure, aneurysms, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
It is not a “man’s disease". In fact, according to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer of American women today, more than breast and lung cancers combined. Whether you are female or male, recognizing the symptoms and risks, making lifestyle changes and getting timely care can save your life. Heart disease risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol use
- Inactive lifestyle
- Excess weight of 20 pounds or more
- Women who have gone through menopause
- Family history of heart attacks or strokes
Talk with your doctor about your individual risk factors and what you can do to lower your risk for heart disease. Prevention strategies:
- Get regular medical screenings for blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol
- Make lifestyle adjustments including diet, smoking cessation, stress reduction and exercise.
- Know your numbers — It's important to know your cholesterol level and blood pressure and to understand what the numbers mean
- Take your prescribed medication as recommended by your cardiologist
- But these aren't the only factors. Your risk increases if you don't see your doctor regularly and/or don't care for your own medical needs the way you do for others