Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. A healthy lifestyle and annual screenings can help to lower the risk. Eighty percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented with regular exercise, healthy nutrition, tobacco control, and by controlling cholesterol and blood pressure.
What is the difference between coronary artery disease and coronary heart disease?
Coronary artery disease refers to the pathologic process affecting the coronary arteries (the blood vessels of the heart). Coronary heart disease includes the diagnoses of angina pectoris, myocardial infarction (or heart attack), and silent myocardial ischemia.
What are the risk factors for coronary heart disease?
There are a variety of risk factors for coronary heart disease including but not limited to elevated cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes. Most people don’t “feel bad” with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol or diabetes. It is important to have a yearly appointment with your doctor to screen for these conditions. Incorporating exercise (at least 150 minutes per week) and smoking cessation will also decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease.
How important is it for me to see a doctor, even if I don’t “feel bad?”
Very important. It is imperative for individuals to be aware of factors that can help prevent coronary heart disease, irrelevant of their age. It is estimated that coronary heart disease is responsible for one-third of deaths of individuals over the age of 35. It is also estimated that half of middle aged men and one-third of middle aged women will develop some manifestations of coronary heart disease in their lifetime.
In short, to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle:
- Visit with your healthcare provider at least once per year in individuals ages 18 and older.
- Stop smoking, aim to exercise 150 minutes minimum per week, maintain a healthy weight and incorporate fresh vegetables, fruits and proteins into your diet.