8 heart disease facts everyone should know
Every year, 630,000 people in the United States will die from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, the most common being coronary artery disease (CHD). Surprisingly, even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk. Here we share eight facts everyone should know about heart disease.
1. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
For both men and women, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death. While the disease affects both sexes, it looks different in men than it does in women. What we do know is, about half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease, which is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices such as diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, obesity and excessive alcohol use put people at higher risk, so if you fall under any of these categories, make sure to get regular heart screenings.
2. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death as of 2013, claiming about 17.3 million lives. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancers combined. The reality is other leading causes of death pale in comparison to heart disease.
3. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans and Hispanics.
Adults in the U.S. are more likely to die from heart disease than any other cause, regardless of race, but certain minority groups face a higher risk than others. These risks are often prevalent due to high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity with heart disease-related deaths the highest among African Americans and Hispanics.
Studies show heart failure disproportionately affects African Americans. Hispanics have the second-highest risk developing heart failure. Both populations are at a greater risk of developing the condition at a younger age, with higher rates of hospitalization and deaths than that of whites.
4. Being “fit” doesn’t mean you’re off the hook
Working out and being thin aren’t guarantees for prevention. Factors like family history, cholesterol, eating habits, stress and smoking counterbalance your healthy habits. You can be thin but have high blood pressure or a genetic predisposition to heart trouble. It’s important to understand even if you are athletic or thin, your risk for heart disease isn’t 100 percent eliminated.
Women & heart disease
5. Symptoms are tough to recognize—especially in women.
Women tend to have more subtle symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, back and jaw pain. Even so, many women may have no symptoms. The most common symptoms in women (as in men) is chest pain which is typically described as sharp and burning. Along with neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back pain. Sometimes heart disease may be silent and sudden, where a woman won’t experience any signs or symptoms until they suffer a heart attack, heart failure, an arrhythmia, or stroke.
6. Nine out of 10 women have at least one risk factor.
Birth control pills, lack of exercise, a poor diet, underlying heart conditions, and smoking all contribute to heart disease in women—and 90 percent of all women have at least one of those risk factors according to the AHA.
To reduce the chances of getting heart disease it’s important to know your blood pressure, talk to your healthcare provider about diabetes, quit smoking, check your cholesterol and triglycerides, limit your alcohol intake, lower your stress level, and make healthy food choices.
Men & heart disease
7. Men have a higher risk than women until the age of 75
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, and men are at risk for heart attacks much earlier in life than women. Estrogen offers women some protection from heart disease until after menopause when estrogen levels drop. This is why the average age of a heart attack for men is at 66, but 70 in women.
8. Half of the men who die suddenly of CHD have no previous symptoms.
Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. Half of the men who die suddenly of CHD have no previous signs — between 70% and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men, according to the CDC.
What we do know is that early action is vital to reduce heart attack and heart disease. Know the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that you can act fast if you or someone you know might be having one. If you have any of the key factors or have a family history, make sure to talk with your healthcare provider. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans will offer you access to free tests for conditions that lead to heart disease. You also get access to free preventive services to help you focus on keeping your heart healthy.