February is Heart Health Month, bringing awareness to the all-too-common problem of heart disease. America has one of the most prevalent rates of heart disease and obesity (a main cause of heart problems) in the world. For Valentine’s Day, you shouldn’t care just about the metaphorical heart—you should care about the literal one as well. In this article, you’ll find information about the prevalence of heart disease in America, information about heart disease, causes of heart disease, and preventative measures to take to keep yourself healthy. While genetics and biology do play a factor, there are certainly steps you can take to better your odds, even if you have a family history of heart disease.
How Common Is Heart Disease in America?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have conducted several studies about heart disease in America, unearthing some scary statistics. In the United States, one in four deaths (610,000 people) is caused by heart disease (CDC, 2017). Heart disease is the top cause of death for women and men (CDC, 2017). Heart attacks are equally common. Each year, approximately 735,000 people suffer a heart attack in the US (CDC, 2017). About two-thirds of these people have never had a heart attack before, while a third has been afflicted previously (CDC, 2017).
Ethnicity-wise, heart disease levels remain constant among Caucasian and African-American people, causing 23.8% of deaths (CDC, 2017). American Indians and Asian Americans have slightly lesser rates, at 22.2% and 18.4% respectively(CDC, 2017). For these two latter groups, cancer is the leading cause of death, but heart disease is number two (CDC, 2017). Hispanic and Latino Americans face higher risks of heart disease than White Americans because of high rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Compared with White Americans, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was 66% higher among Hispanics/Latinos. At least 65% of people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke. Yet, only 1 in 4 Latinos with diabetes know they are at risk for heart disease. The term “heart disease” is often used in an all-encompassing way, but there are actually several different forms.
What Are the Most Prevalent Types of Heart Disease?
The most common types include coronary artery disease, enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy) and hypertension. Of course, there are many different forms, but these are the main names you should know.
- Coronary artery disease. With CAD, the arteries of the heart become blocked or narrowed (Cleveland Clinic, 2019). Fatty deposits and cholesterol build up on the arterial inner walls, restricting blood flow (Cleveland Clinic, 2019).
- Enlarged heart. This is more of a symptom than a disease in and of itself. When you have an enlarged heart, your heart muscles thicken or a chamber dilates (Mayo Clinic, 2017). This condition is often caused by bodily stress, such as pregnancy, coronary artery disease, hypertension or arrhythmia (Mayo Clinic, 2017).
- Hypertension. Hypertension is more-commonly referred to as high blood pressure. Obesity, drinking and smoking, and a family history of the ailment are all major risk factors (WebMD, 2019). When you have high blood pressure, the blood flowing through your arteries is under a higher rate of pressure than it should be (WebMD, 2019).
Coronary artery disease is the number-one cause of death in Americans, and an enlarged heart and hypertension are often associated with the disease. There are many causes of heart disease that fall into the categories of biological and environmental.
Biological causes of heart disease usually have to do with your family history. Other factors include your age, sex, and ethnicity (Kochanek, 2011). As your age increases, your heart disease risk increases as well (Kochanek, 2011). Women are more likely to contract heart disease than men, and heart disease is most common in the Caucasian and African-American communities (Kochanek, 2011). Your race, sex, age, and family history are things you do not have control over. But what about things you do?
There are several environmental causes of heart disease. Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise can all contribute to heart disease (CDC, Heart Disease Behavior, 2019). Drinking alcoholic beverages is not allowed during our acute weight loss program but it is on our maintenance program. For alcohol, the CDC recommends that women have no more than one drink per day, while men should have no more than two drinks per day. Preventative measures you can take include cutting down on drinking, avoiding high-fat, high-sodium, and high-sugar diets, and exercising regularly. Even if you have biological risk factors, you can still eliminate environmental risks.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
If you’re reading this article and wondering if you might have heart disease, there are some major symptoms you should know. The disease takes a while to develop, with signs and symptoms usually appearing before things get serious (NIH, 2018) but not always. Chest pain, swelling of the ankles, shortness of breath, heartburn, arm pain, weakness, and coughing that doesn’t go away may indicate the presence of heart disease (NIH, 2018).
If you have a family history of heart disease, you should definitely talk to your doctor. However, don’t count yourself out just because you have those genetics in your family. There are ways you can better your odds against heart disease. Heart disease is common in America, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many things that you can do to reduce your risks once you have the knowledge and the tools to do so.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
CardioMender, MD Weight Loss Specialists is South Florida’s most trusted medically supervised weight loss program. We provide customized, safe, rapid weight loss and the means to keep it off. At CardioMender, MD a doctor is ALWAYS available. Start losing weight today, under the supervision of Chief Medical Officer Barry H. Schiff, MD, a 32-year veteran Board-Certified Cardiologist and Internist. Dr. D. Allen Young is a Board-Certified Obesity Medicine Physician and Internist.
To find out more about how we can help you reduce your risks for heart disease and best reach your weight loss goals using proven strategies, please visit us at www.cardiomenderweightloss.com or call us at 954-628-3802 to set up your appointment today.
The bottom of this blog should include the disclaimer that I requested be associated with last week’s blog.
CDC. (2017, 11 28). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
CDC. (2019, 02 06). Heart Disease Behavior. Retrieved from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/behavior.htm
Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Coronary Artery Disease. Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16898-coronary-artery-disease
Kochanek, K. (2011). Deaths: Final Data for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports, 1-117.
Mayo Clinic. (2017, 11 17). Enlarged Heart. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/enlarged-heart/symptoms-causes/syc-20355436
NIH. (2018, 09 24). Warning signs and symptoms of heart disease. Retrieved from MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000775.htm
WebMD. (2019). Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center. Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/default.htm
What Hispanic Americans Need to Know About Heart Disease. Retrieved from:
CardioMender,MD Weight Loss Specialists is South Florida’s most trusted medically supervised weight loss program. We provide customized, safe, rapid weight loss and the means to keep it off. At CardioMender,MD a doctor is ALWAYS available. Start losing weight today, under the supervision of Chief Medical Officer Barry H. Schiff, MD, a 32-year veteran Board-Certified Cardiologist and Internist. Dr. D. Allen Young is a Board-Certified Obesity Medicine Physician and Internist.