A Long and Healthy Life: A Guide to Heart Disease Prevention

Heart disease is a broad term for many different detrimental conditions relating to the heart. Also called cardiovascular disease, heart disease is a serious and sometimes preventable condition that should never be taken lightly. The heart is the lifeline to the body. Without it, life-sustaining blood will not be pumped through the veins and arteries. Everyone, regardless of his or her family history, should take charge of their health and do everything possible to prevent heart disease.

Heart Disease Basics

Heart disease is any illness surrounding the heart and its related blood vessels. People who suffer from coronary artery disease, arrhythmia -- a problem with the heart's beating rhythm, heart infection, or those born with heart and/or heart valve defects are considered to have heart disease. Cardiovascular disease is also considered heart disease, but deals primarily with the heart's blood vessels. People with high cholesterol that blocks the arteries have cardiovascular disease.

The most common results of heart disease are heart attacks, angina attacks resulting in severe chest pain, and strokes. With the exception of genetic disorders, heart disease is a preventable condition. For the most part, people give themselves heart disease by an improper diet and sedate lifestyle. This allows plaque to build up in arteries, blocking the precious blood vessels and causing a heart attack or stroke.

American Heart Association: What Is Heart Disease?

National Institutes of Health: What Is Heart Disease?

Genetic Health: What Is Heart Disease

"Medical News Today": What Is Heart Disease?

Women's Heart Foundation: What Is Heart Disease?

Why You May Be Affected By Heart Disease -- The Risk Factors

Heart disease commonly affects those who -- simply put -- do not take care of themselves. Those most at risk are people who smoke; consume diets high in fat, cholesterol, and salt; have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol; have diabetes; are considered obese; do not exercise; maintain a high stress level in their lives. Factors that contribute to heart disease that are out of a person's control are their family history, age, and gender. Those whose family history includes heart disease are at a much higher risk of heart disease than those whose family history is heart-healthy. Age is also a factor nobody can control; once you get older your heart gets weaker. Oddly enough, your gender also plays a role in heart disease. Men are at a much higher risk than women are for getting heart disease; however, women need to take care after menopause, because their chances of getting heart disease increase after the change.

Another contributor to heart disease is poor hygiene. People with poor personal hygiene and poor dental hygiene run the risk of allowing bacteria to enter their bodies. Should the bacteria be the kind that attacks the heart, a heart infection occurs, and this is also considered a form of heart disease. Those with already weakened hearts need to take special care to keep their body and mouth free of harmful bacterial matter.

Washington University School of Medicine: Heart Disease Your Risk

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Heart Disease Risk Factors

WebMD Heart Disease Health Center: Living With and Managing Heart Disease

Health.com: 10 Risk Factors for Heart Disease

World Heart Federation: Cardiovascular Disease Risks

Why Heart Disease is So Common Today

Heart disease is common in today's society because society has lost touch with how our bodies were designed to function. We have gone from being outside working hard in the fields to being inside sitting in front of a computer. This sedate lifestyle is horribly unhealthy for our heart muscle, which needs to be worked out just like any other muscle to keep strong. To make matters worse, we've gone from the fields to the office but haven't changed our eating habits and, in most cases, made our eating habits worse. Healthy food has been replaced with junk food and drinks, and with no exercise to work that extra sugar and fat off, we've gained weight and suffered the consequences.

People have also suffered because we consume far more processed foods than we ever did before. Many of these processed foods have some form of hydrogenated oils in them. Hydrogenated oil is a combination of oil and hydrogen, and it's a deadly combination because it increases the bad cholesterol which, in turn, produces plaque in the arteries. Foods with high sodium content also saturate our restaurants and marketplaces. Sodium increases blood pressure and the body's retention of water. All of these factors present the deadly combination needed to give a person heart disease.

University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart Disease

Georgia Department of Human Services: Number One Killer in Georgia: Cardiovascular Disease

Pima County Government (Arizona): Make it Your Mission to Fight Heart Disease in Women (PDF File)

New York State Department of Health: The Burden of Cardiovascular Disease in New York (PDF File)

Michigan State Government: Cardiovascular Disease is Michigan's Number One Killer (PDF File)

Tips for Preventing Heart Disease

Diet and exercise are the main factors in preventing heart disease; that, and simply taking care of yourself. The Mayo Clinic recommends several steps people can take to prevent heart disease. First and foremost, Mayo clinic says to quit smoking. Controlling other illnesses, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are also key in preventing heart disease. Get out and get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Eat a healthy diet of unprocessed foods that are low in salt and saturated fat. Keep your weight down, and manage your stress levels. Finally, practice good hygiene. The latter is not only healthy for your heart, but also your social life … which is healthy for your heart!

Mayo Clinic: Heart Disease Prevention

Kids Health: Cholesterol and Your Child

"Los Angeles Times": Cut Your Risk of Heart Disease, Even At Work

The Ohio State University Medical Center: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Joslin Diabetes Center: 7 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease

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