Submitted by Alicia DeRuscio, B.S.
Community Education Assistant
February Is American Heart Month
Did you know the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States is heart disease? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. Therefore, it’s important to stay educated on heart health, know the risk factors associated with heart problems, and the steps you can take to protect yourself against such problems.
Speaking of heart health, you’ve probably heard the terms cardiovascular disease, heart disease and coronary artery disease, but do you know the difference between them?
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines cardiovascular disease as a broad term used to describe any type of disease that affects either the heart or the blood vessels. Heart disease is considered a type of cardiovascular disease. All heart diseases are considered cardiovascular diseases, but not all cardiovascular diseases are heart diseases.
There are several types of heart diseases, all of which affect the heart. While coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, there are many other conditions that affect the heart. These conditions may include but are not limited to arrhythmias, heart failure and cardiomyopathy. An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that can be either very fast or very slow, heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs, and cardiomyopathy is a condition that affects the heart muscles, resulting in a weakened heart.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
Coronary artery disease is a type of heart disease and, according to the American Heart Association, is actually the most common type of heart disease, affecting more than 16.5 million Americans. CAD occurs when there is a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This plaque is usually made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium or other substances. When plaque builds up, the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart is blocked and can lead to chest pain and heart attack.
Promoting Heart Health
While there are some uncontrollable risk factors that increase the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, like age or family history, there are many risk factors that we can control. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, a poor diet and inactivity can all greatly increase your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. In order to promote heart health and protect against CVD, the National Institute of Health recommends:
- Keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1C levels in check by visiting your healthcare provider on a regular basis.
- Reducing the amount of salt you eat to no more than 2,300 mg per day.
- Increasing the amount of fruits, vegetables and whole grains you eat.
- Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Not smoking.
- Managing stress.
For more information, contact your healthcare provider or call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our wellness center on 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.