Did you know that the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States is heart disease? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the deaths of more than 600,000 Americans—1 in 4—are attributed each year to heart disease.
In the United States, the month of February has been designated American Heart Month. Two nationwide campaign efforts lead the charge with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness about heart disease. The most well-known—The American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) National Wear Red Day—is this Friday, February 3. This campaign encourages women to make heart health a priority. The second campaign, Million Hearts, is a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association and other private-public partners; the goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes through prevention and awareness.
The term “heart disease” encompasses not just the heart, but diseases that affect the system that supports it. The most common of these is coronary artery disease, which, according to the CDC, can lead to, or be the first sign of, a heart attack.
Heart disease does not discriminate—it affects people of all ages. In fact, a person can be born with heart disease and anyone, including children, can develop the disease.
According to both the CDC and the AHA, risk factors for increasing a person’s chances of acquiring heart disease include age, family history, smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise. In addition, the probability of getting heart disease increases with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of heart disease, which is why prevention is important. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to make heart health a priority.
The Medical Board of California makes it easy for you to check the status of your doctor’s license. Visit www.mbc.ca.gov.