a doctor's hands hold a red heart
Heart and Vascular

What Exactly is Heart Disease?

May 24 2019

Mike McConnell interviewed Dr. Manisha Patel, a Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, about heart disease. Here’s what we learned from her expert opinion and heart disease explained.

Heart disease is a term that is thrown around often when it comes to heart health, but what exactly is heart disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term

Heart disease explained: It is not a single condition but an umbrella term for a number of conditions that affect the heart. It is the leading cause of death for Americans and kills more people every year than all forms of cancer combined. Along with acquired conditions, congenital conditions, heart defects someone is born with, are included among conditions considered heart disease.

Five risk factors of heart disease

There are five risk factors to consider when it comes to heart disease.

  1. genetics
  2. high blood pressure
  3. high cholesterol
  4. diabetes
  5. smoking

Many forms of heart disease are preventable with coronary artery disease being the most preventable. Coronary artery disease is essentially a plumbing problem. It is when a blockage or blockages develop in the small arteries that act as the pipes that bring blood to the heart.
Someone who has a family history of coronary artery disease could be genetically prone to developing blockages. This is why it’s important to address family history with your doctor and monitor the other risk factors accordingly, to make any necessary lifestyle changes.

Why is heart disease on the rise?

The statistics on heart disease today are far from ideal. While there had been a decline in heart disease a few decades ago it is on the rise again. This is due to a few different factors. To start, heart disease is typically diagnosed in the second half of a person’s life. So, since we have an aging population it is more commonly seen. Also, screening technology has improved, so we are detecting heart disease more frequently. Lastly, the unhealthy lifestyle of many Americans continues to rise, putting more people at risk of developing heart disease.

A discussion with your doctor about heart disease and heart health can help put you on the right track to live better and avoid heart disease.

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