February is American Heart Month and a good time to address some of the common health issues that can contribute to heart disease. Various factors play a part in affecting your heart's health, including: smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, Lipoprotein, Oxidized and small LDL, Postprandial abnormalities, Hypertension, stress, inflammation, Vitamin D deficiency and Vitamin K2 deficiency. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is also a common contributor as well.
While heart disease is in itself a generalized term to basically cover a broad range of heart-related illnesses, some of the most commonly seen conditions and their causes are as follows:
- Atherosclerosis - unhealthy diet, insufficient exercise, smoking and being overweight
- Heart Arrhythmia - drug abuse, high blood pressure, smoking, heart defects, stress, diabetes, coronary artery disease, excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine
- Heart defects - typically present at birth, caused during formation of the fetus but can develop later on during adulthood
- Cardiomyopathy - exact cause unknown, but is characterized by the thickening or enlarging of the heart muscle
- Heart infection - bacteria, viruses, parasites, reactions from medications, other disease such as lupus and radiation treatments for cancer
Can heart disease be hereditary?
Absolutely. If your parents have a history of heart and blood vessel disease, then your chances of developing these same conditions are significantly increased. Race can also play a part in your risk for heart disease. For example, high blood pressure is common among African Americans, which increases their risk of both stroke and heart disease. Experts have discovered a number of genes reportedly linked with stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. Although a person may carry one or more of these genes, the extent in which it impacts the individual is still not certain. You can't exactly change the genetic makeup that is you, but by avoiding pitfalls that can affect your heart and living a healthier lifestyle, you can certainly reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
How do I know if I have heart disease?
The best way of discovering whether or not you have any type of heart illness or condition is through a thorough examination given by a physician. Of course there are symptoms that may clue you in, but symptoms are not always present, and therefore unreliable. The most common symptom associated with heart conditions is chest pain. However, not everyone with a heart condition experiences pain in the chest. In fact, some have even had a heart attack without any chest pain at all. Other symptoms that one may experience include: fatigue, backache, indigestion, chills, palpitations, nausea/vomiting, anxiety, dizziness, shortness of breath, cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the lips, feet or hands) and paleness in complexion. Often times numbness of the extremities may also be present.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 600,000 American lives each year.