Heart disease and obesity
Heart Disease
Preventing an Unhealthy Heart Through a Healthy Lifestyle

Heart disease is one of the top killers in America. Even though there are heart problems that are a result of genetics, many heart conditions have been linked to poor diets and other unhealthy behaviors such as cigarette smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Heart Diseases and Conditions

There are many different types of heart conditions. These conditions affect how the heart functions. Some examples of heart problems include coronary artery disease, abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure, heart muscle disease, congenital heart disease, heart valve disease and aorta disease.

Most of these heart conditions are adversely affected by a poor diet. Heart failure, for example, is something often caused by obesity.

Let's note, heart failure does not mean that the heart has completely stopped working, but rather that it is no longer functioning at full capacity. Symptoms include swollen ankles and shortness of breath.

Coronary artery disease can also be adversely affected by diet and/or smoking. Coronary artery disease is a result of plaque formation and hardening of the arteries.

Meanwhile, congenital heart disease is a defect in the heart structures that is present at birth. Abnormal heart rhythms can have a variety of causes, including hormone imbalances.

Heart Facts

In the United States, over 600,000 people die from heart disease every year. That's roughly one in four deaths. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death for both genders and nearly every ethnicity.

Every year, about 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Of that number, 71% of them are first time victims while 29% of them have suffered a heart attack before.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and excessive alcohol use are all major risk factors for heart disease. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, and it kills about 370,000 Americans per year.

Preventing Heart Disease Through Diet

As previously mentioned, many types of heart disease can be reduced or prevented by changing your diet and exercise. Managing stress is also an important aspect of reducing heart disease risk.

A healthy diet should be low in sodium, sugar, trans fat and saturated fat. It's also recommended that a heart-healthy diet be largely plant-based. Oily fish and whole grains with a rich fiber content are ideal substitutes for red meat and other fatty types of meat.

Eating plenty of vegetables that are high in anti-oxidants is another important way to improve heart health.

One of the biggest risks for Americans in modern society is a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is all too common with the rising amount of office jobs. Being even moderately physically active significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.

Some ideas for easy physical activity include brisk walking, weight lifting, yoga and aerobics.

More Serious Heart Problems

Some heart problems require more than just lifestyle changes and healthy eating, however. For example, congestive heart failure and cancers affecting the heart such as pericardial mesothelioma require more demanding medical attention.

Congestive heart failure can't necessarily be reversed through diet and exercise, but various medical treatments can help prolong life. Some of these treatments include blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, diuretics and anti-platelet drugs.

People with advanced heart failure might need even more treatment such as a pacemaker or cardiac resynchronization therapy. Some surgeries that may be considered for heart failure patients include valve replacement or coronary artery bypass surgery among others.

Heart disease may be a common killer for Americans of nearly every demographic, but it doesn't have to be. Lifestyle changes and following a healthy diet can remove or reduce the risk for many types of heart disease.

Article Written by Blake Proctor: Writer/Editor on Terminal Illness Research and Studies

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