Heart Disease: The Leading Cause of Death in the United States. Are You At Risk?

BlogHer Original Post

What is a heart attack? Why do some people live and others die? Can something be done to help prevent heart disease? Are you at risk?

Yesterday we heard the sad news of Tim Russert's sudden death from an apparent heart attack, at the age of only 58.

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2008, an estimated 770,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and about 430,000 will have a recurrent attack. About every 26 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.

We now know that Tim Russert was being treated for a condition known as asymptomatic coronary artery disease. This means that through tests, he was aware that he had coronary artery disease, however he had no symptoms. Ultimately, this disease and sudden cardiac arrest is what killed him. In more technical terms, he had a sudden coronary thrombosis, that caused ventricular arrhythmia, that caused a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest.

Although people can survive heart attacks (when they receive prompt medical treatment), the type of heart attack that Tim Russert had (sudden cardiac arrest), has a very low survival rate. Here is a video clip of Tim Russert's physician (who was with him before and after his death), explaining what happened

I was planning to blog about something else today, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to address some of the issues surrounding heart disease. Specifically, prevention of coronary artery disease.

The Mayo Clinic has a list of specific lifestyle changes we can all make to help prevent coronary artery disease.  They also suggest...

In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, remember the importance of regular medical checkups. Some of the main risk factors for coronary artery disease — high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — have no symptoms in the early stages. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health.

It's very important to Know The Warning Signs...

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Wendy at Healthy Endeavors is Heartsick over Heart Disease...

Do you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women, taking close to 500,000 lives each year, far surpassing breast cancer, diabetes and other causes of death? The reality, however, is that heart disease is highly preventable, yet research shows that many women don’t even know they’re at risk. Why? For a myriad of reasons women often put their health last on the list, despite their best intentions.

I say enough is enough. It’s time for each of us to take a stand and take action about our heart health. That’s why I created the Take Your Health To Heart Challenge. The Challenge motivates and inspires women across the country and around the world to make heart-healthy lifestyle changes that help prevent heart disease and significantly reduce risk factors. Heart disease has affected people in my own life and I’m determined to help spread the word and encourage women to truly take their health to heart.

Kim from Up North Mommy discovered a man seemingly taking advantage of Tim Russert's death to push his own agenda (and books)...

If you take a look at this website, you'll see a couple of books written my Mr. Adams clearly displayed on the right hand side. So what's the issue? It's this: before Mr. Russert has even been eulogized and buried, Mr. Adams has published an article in which he blames Mr. Russert's death on pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Adams doesn't know anything about Mr. Russert's medical history or daily eating and exercise habits. Nor does he know anything about his stress levels, yet he acts like he and his lifestyle alone could have single handedly saved Mr. Russert's life. Not only is this in bad taste, but it's also sickeningly manipulative.

Also See:

Women and Heart Disease - Knowing The Facts Could Save Your Life

Menopause and Heart Disease

How Old Is Your Heart?

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan at catherine-morgan.com, The Political Voices of Women, Care2 Election Blog

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