Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States.
Heart disease includes a number of problems affecting the heart and the blood vessels in the heart. Some progress quietly for years until they are announced by a heart attack. These conditions include coronary artery disease, heart failure and heart arrhythmias.
Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of heart attacks. When you have CAD, your arteries become hard and narrow. This restricts the flow of blood to the heart and can lead to angina and heart attack.
Angina is chest pain that happens when the heart does not get enough blood. It isn’t a heart attack, but it is an indicator that you may have a heart attack.
Heart failure doesn’t mean that the heart stops. It occurs when the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should. This means that other organs don’t get all the blood they need.
Heart arrhythmias are changes in the beat of the heart that can cause flutters, dizziness or feeling faint. These changes are harmless for most people and tend to increase with age. If these symptoms are extreme and include shortness of breath, call 9-1-1 right away.
Warning signs of heart disease include:
- Increasing shortness of breath, even when not exercising or moving much
- Chest pain that goes away with rest
- A sudden feeling of exhaustion
- Rapid weight gain
- Swelling or pain in the abdomen
- Increased swelling of the legs or ankles.
Discuss these symptoms with your doctor and ask that you be screened for heart disease.