Heart and blood vessel disease - cardiovascular disease also called heart disease - includes numerous problems, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a condition that develops when a substance called plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
Symptoms tend to vary, but chest pain is the most common indicator that someone is having a heart attack. However this pain may move from the chest to the arms, shoulder, neck, teeth, jaw, belly area or back.
The pain can be severe or mild. It can feel like:
• A tight band around the chest
• Bad indigestion
• Something heavy sitting on your chest
• Squeezing or heavy pressure
The pain usually lasts longer than 20 minutes. Rest and a medicine called nitroglycerin may not completely relieve the pain of a heart attack. Symptoms may also go away and come back.
People harbor wrong notions about heart disease and treatment, which can prove harmful to heart-health. Here are a few heart myths:
Myth 1: "I am too young to worry about heart disease."
Truth: How you live now affects your risk for cardiovascular diseases later in life. As early as childhood and adolescence, plaque can start accumulating in the arteries and later lead to clogged arteries.
Myth 2: "Heart disease runs in my family, so there's nothing I can do to prevent it."
Truth: Although people with a family history of heart disease are at higher risk, you can take steps to dramatically reduce your risk. Create an action plan to keep your heart healthy by tackling these to-dos: get active; control cholesterol; eat better; manage blood pressure; maintain a healthy weight; control blood sugar; and stop smoking.
Myth 3: "I'll know when I'm having a heart attack because I'll have chest pain."
Truth: Not necessarily. Although it's common to have chest pain or discomfort, a heart attack may cause subtle symptoms. These include shortness of breath, nausea, feeling lightheaded, and pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the jaw, neck or back. Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. Learn your risk of heart attack today! (www.heart.org)