In 1963, President John F. Kennedy determined that the American people should be educated about heart diseases – the leading cause of death in both men and women. There are several factors concerning heart disease that we should all endeavour to find out.
Different kinds of heart diseases
Many people are not aware that there are two categories of heart diseases – those which can be prevented and those which cannot.
- Preventable – Coronary Artery Disease accounts for over 50% of heart related health conditions and is generally the result of a build up of plaque and fatty materials on arterial walls.
- Non-preventable – the non-preventable causes of heart diseases include myocarditis, peripartum cardiomyopathy, diabetes, high blood pressure, genetic factors and idiopathic causes. Whilst nothing can be done to prevent either the risk factors or the heart disease in these cases, they will respond to treatment – especially if discovered quickly.
All patients suffering from heart diseases receive the same treatment – as doctors initially focus on treating and saving the patient rather than on the cause of the heart attack. However, the cause of a heart attack, or heart failure, is important to know and understand as it may well have some bearing on the treatment program determined by the cardiologist.
Preventing heart diseases
Most people are aware of the risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease, making a few simple lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce your risk of developing heart diseases.
- Eat a heart healthy diet – choosing low fat food, which is also low in cholesterol, will limit the build up of plaque on the arterial walls. A well balanced diet with a wide range of fresh foods, which is also high in fibre, low in salt and sugar, is of benefit to everyone. Individuals at risk from heart disease should endeavour to avoid processed and pre-packed foods where possible and decrease their intake of the transfats contained in many commercially produced baked goods.
- Exercise – twenty minutes of strenuous exercise every day helps to reduce high blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels and helps in the management of diabetes. Try to get into the habit of walking instead of driving, or parking further away from your destination, use the stairs instead of the elevator and make the effort to go out for a walk every day.
- Regular health check-ups – arranging a medical examination with your doctor or health practitioner will help to highlight any emerging health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, in order that they may be swiftly dealt with.
- Treat don’t ignore – individuals diagnosed with high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure or diabetes should follow the treatment plan laid out by your doctor in order to minimise the risk of developing heart disease.
- Drink sensibly – avoid binge drinking, use alcohol wisely.
Recognise the symptoms
Early recognition and diagnosis of a heart attack is essential to a full and successful recovery. If the heart attack is quickly recognised it means the cardiologist has more treatment options and a great chance of successfully treating the patient.
Individuals with symptoms of heart disease are frequently misdiagnosed – the symptoms may be attributed to the menopause, indigestion or pneumonia. However, any change in symptoms – in their nature or severity should be reported to your medical practitioner.
When discovered and diagnosed early the treatment options for heart disease are greater and are generally more successful.
Spread the word
By educating yourself about heart disease and its associated symptoms, you will also be able to educate others. It is also essential that you carry a donor card and inform your next of kin of your desire to be an organ donor.