Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It affects people from all walks of life. Sometimes it is called cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease (CAD).
Heart disease occurs when the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen rich blood flowing freely to your heart, brain, legs and every part of your body. Fatty deposits (cholesterol) build up in the arteries over time, making them blocked, or narrowed, and rough. When this happens, blood can no longer flow easily.
When the heart muscle does not get enough blood and oxygen, symptoms such as pain in the chest, arm or neck area may occur. If an artery becomes completely blocked, part of the heart muscle begins to die from lack of oxygen. This is a heart attack.
Preventing Heart Disease
Here are key steps to help lower your risk for heart disease and heart attacks:
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Don't smoke or use other tobacco products
- Eat healthy – choose a nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your stress
- Know your numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides) and take steps to manage them
For more information about heart disease and other health conditions, members may log in to Blue Access for Members.