Heart Disease Risk Factors and Symptoms

Heart Disease Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that come together in increasing a person's risk for heart disease. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, family history of heart disease as well as tobacco smoke.

Certainly we can't do anything to control the family genes, but those things that can be controlled should be controlled as best as possible to minimize the chance of developing heart disease. In that light, it would be important to control high blood pressure, to control diabetes, to control your diet and exercise more for weight control, and also to stop smoking.

Working with your physician and making these lifestyle changes would give you the best chance of preventing the development of heart disease.

Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of heart disease will depend on the particular aspect of the heart disease. For instance, arrhythmias or abnormalities of the heart's electrical rhythm could result in symptoms of palpitations that can be felt as heart racing or fluttering, or an irregularity of the heart beating. The symptoms that might be related to difficulties with the heart muscle or valves could be things such as shortness of breath, swelling in the legs, or dizziness, severe lightheadedness, or passing out. In abnormalities related to coronary disease, these symptoms might be chest pain or pressure, but often times it could be fairly subtle, like a tightness or burning, or perhaps even a sensation of indigestion that might otherwise be dismissed as something from the stomach or esophagus.

In women in particular, there can be variations on this that might not be classical chest pain. There may be discomfort in the shoulder, jaw, or arms. These symptoms related to coronary disease may be more severe or more persistent in the situation of a heart attack. This arises when a coronary artery completely closes and restricts blood flow to the heart muscle.

UM BWMC's award-winning cardiac program is recognized by the American Heart Association