Prevention Series: Heart Disease

What is Heart Disease?

As stated by the CDC, about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths, making it the leading cause of death in the United States. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, including:

  • Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects)
  • Heart valve disease
  • Disease of the heart muscle
  • Heart infection

The most common type in the United States is CAD, which affects the blood flow to the heart. This decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.

Risk Factors

The CDC and Mayo Clinic outline the risk factors for heart disease. If you have any of the following, talk to your doctor about the steps you need to be taking to reduce your risk.

  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. 
  • Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, a poor diet, excessive alcohol use, physical inactivity, etc.
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unavoidable factors such as family history, age and sex.


Mayo Clinic explains that many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices. The best way to reduce your risk and to help manage unpreventable circumstances, such as a heart defect, is to follow “Life’s Simple 7.” This outline was developed by the American Heart Association and is the backbone for preventing a wide range of additional illnesses.

Life’s Simple 7

  1. Never smoke or stop smoking. After just one year of not smoking, risk of heart disease is already lower.
  2. Get active! It is recommended to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week.
  3. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Focus on including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts and limit your intake of processed foods and sugar.
  4. Reduce your blood sugar levels through healthy lifestyle changes.
  5. Be mindful of your cholesterol levels.
  6. Take steps to manage blood pressure.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight.

Keep in mind that lifestyle changes are a process, but if you stay consistent, you will see and feel the results! Visit the CDC, Mayo Clinic or The American Heart Association for more information! The last four bullets refer to your health numbers that you can find out during a biometric screening. To learn healthy ranges for these numbers, check out our previous blog post!

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