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Image description: Technology today lets doctors get a pretty good look at our hearts. Check out all the ways they look at our tickers. 
Photo from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Image description: Technology today lets doctors get a pretty good look at our hearts. Check out all the ways they look at our tickers. 

Photo from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Love and care for your heart

Your heart is the engine of your body. And even though you might think it’s working normally, this major organ requires special care and attention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 600,000 people in the United States die each year from heart disease. The CDC also reports that a quarter of Hispanics have high blood pressure.

There are many types of heart complications, but one of the most common is coronary heart disease.

What is coronary heart disease and what are the causes?

This illness — called atherosclerosis — happens when plaque forms in the artery walls, restricting normal blood flow through the body. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and other substances.

There are many risks factors causing coronary heart diseases, some related to your lifestyle or medical conditions, including:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking, among others

Health consequences

When a clogged artery restricts your flow of blood, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Chest pains
  • Irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias
  • Heart failure, or even a heart attack

Prevention and treatment

To reduce the risk of getting these or other heart diseases, take your blood pressure every six months and go over the results with your doctor. It’s also a good idea to eat well, exercise and not smoke.

Along with a balanced diet and exercise regimen, your physician may also prescribe medication to treat heart disease. If your condition is more advanced, bypass surgery may be needed to allow the blood to return to its normal flow.

Stay informed

Million Hearts is a national initiative where you can find information about heart disease. It also offers the opportunity to help prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

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Get Heart Smart and Healthy

February is known to be about hearts, but not just the kind Cupid aims for. It’s National Heart Month, and a great time to learn about taking the best care of your body’s most important muscle. Here are some important facts you might not know and tips you can use to keep your heart healthy:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Over time it can cause a heart attack, and many people are unaware of the warning signs—which can be rather mild. Chest pain or discomfort, pressure or squeezing, along with shortness of breath, and nausea, are all symptoms of heart attack. Although not everyone who has a heart attack experiences the same symptoms, it’s important to take notice and know what to look for in order to get proper help quickly.
  • Risk factors such as age and heredity cannot be changed, so be sure to see your doctor regularly and make sure they know your family’s history of heart problems.
  • Heart issues are often associated with men, when in fact 1 in 4 women have heart disease. Being overweight, a smoker, or inactive all contribute to heart disease. Luckily, you can prevent these risks by making good food choices, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. While this can sound daunting, making small daily changes can go a long way: avoid adding salt to your food, gradually cut back on cigarettes, and make an effort to take a walk each day.
  • Diets that are high in fat can lead to elevated levels of cholesterol in your blood, which can cause heart complications by creating blockages in your arteries. There are medications to help with high cholesterol including statins, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, and niacin. Each has potential side effects, so talk to your doctor to devise a plan for what will work best for you.

For more information on heart disease and other health matters wherever you are, check out the MedlinePlus mobile site.

Wear red to show your support for women’s heart health.