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Understanding Heart Disease

A healthy heart

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What is heart disease?

Heart disease is an illness that many people have.

If you have heart disease, this means that the blood in your body is not able to flow freely into your heart.

You are more likely to develop heart disease if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes.
  • Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Do not exercise.
  • Are overweight or obese.
  • Have diabetes that is not under control.
  • Have a lot of stress or anger in your life.

You may be able to tell if you have heart disease. 

The most common symptom of heart disease is called “angina.”

Angina is a feeling of discomfort and pain in your chest, shoulders, arms, neck, back, or jaw.

Some people say that angina feels like having indigestion or heartburn.

Other signs of heart disease include:

  • Having a hard time breathing.
  • Feeling like your heart is beating oddly or skipping beats.
  • Having a fast heartbeat.
  • Feeling weak or dizzy.
  • Sweating a lot.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms there are things you can do.

You should:

  • See your doctor immediately.
  • Stop what you are doing and rest.

Your doctor can tell if you are having a heart attack.

The symptoms of a heart attack are often the same as the symptoms of heart disease.

If you think that you or somebody around you is having a heart attack, you should call 9-1-1 for emergency help!

  • It is important to get help quickly – do not wait at all!

You can prevent heart disease if you make changes in your life and:

  • Do not smoke.
  • Eat healthy foods that are low in fats and cholesterol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Stay on your diet if you have diabetes.
  • Manage stress.

Even if you have trouble moving around, you can still find ways to exercise.

You can do some exercises with your arms while you are sitting down.

You may also be able to do exercises on a weight machine with light weights.

Ask you doctor, caregiver, or physical therapist for more information about these kinds of exercises.

Reducing stress in your life can also lower your risk of developing heart disease.

To reduce stress in your life, try:

  • Talking to friends, family members, and caregivers about things that are bothering you.
  • Doing deep breathing, stretching, or other relaxation exercises.

Talk to your doctor about more ways to reduce stress in your life.

If you have heart disease, your doctor can help.

Ask your doctor to give you advice.

Check with your doctor regularly about your health.

See if your doctor says medication can help you manage your heart disease.

If you have questions about heart disease, be sure to talk to your doctor!

  • Your doctor can give you more information about steps you can take to keep your heart healthy and strong!
Last updated on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:54