Baylor College of Medicine News

BCM experts offer the following Q&A to help you

Is heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States?

Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an American will have a coronary event about every 25 seconds. According to the American Heart Association, every 39 seconds one person will die from heart disease.

What are the risk factors for heart disease?

Some risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use or second hand smoke. Some medical conditions, such as arrhythmia and peripheral artery disease, can affect your heart and increase your risk of death from a coronary event.

Do all heart attacks have the same symptoms?

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but many start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Those symptoms include chest discomfort like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Do women have different heart attack symptoms than men?

Yes. While chest pain is still a primary symptom, women will also suffer from these symptoms with or without chest pain: Neck, jaw or shoulder pain, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain or heartburn, and unusual or unexplained fatigue

Is heart disease preventable?

There are some illnesses that cause heart disease and other heart conditions. However, adopting a healthy lifestyle can dramatically reduce your risk for heart disease. For example, lowering fat intake and adding more activity to your day can help lower cholesterol. At least one hour of cardiovascular exercise a day is recommended. Even if your workout is broken into shorter sessions through out the day, it can still reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

I don’t think I’m at risk, should I still talk to my doctor?

Yes. A yearly exam should include a blood pressure check, lipid and cholesterol test and a discussion with your doctor about other risk factors and family health history. From there, you and your doctor can decide how often to follow up and what else you can do to improve your overall health.