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Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is one of the leading killers in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. With so much on the line, it’s important to be aware of the risk factors of heart disease.
The term “heart disease” refers to several conditions that affect the heart. This includes heart rhythm problems, diseases of the blood vessels or arteries, and heart defects that you’re born with, among others.
People with heart disease are at risk of both heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest. During heart attacks, blood flow to the heart is blocked. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating abruptly and blood stops flowing to the brain and other organs.
Sudden cardiac arrest may occur after a heart attack. Without resuscitation from CPR or a defibrillator, most people who experience sudden cardiac arrest die within a few minutes. The majority of sudden cardiac deaths occur in men.
We interviewed a bunch of kids to find out their thoughts. Their adorable reactions inspired us to learn more about the heart ourselves!
Am I at Risk for Heart Disease? Although some heart disease risk factors, such as family history, are unchangeable, there are many risk factors that can be modified—at any age.
There are three main—and preventable—risk factors of heart disease. Roughly half of Americans have at least one of these:
Other risk factors include:
What’s more, poor diet and a lack of exercise can cause plaque to form in arteries. This can happen as early as adolescence. When it does, it paves the way for a possible heart attack in a few decades. In addition, while most people who die from heart disease are 65 or older, nearly 20% are younger.
The statistics for both men and women are startling. In the U.S., about half of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have a heart attack die. The risk for heart attack in men increases after age 45. Meanwhile, women’s risk for heart attack rises after age 55. For women under age 50, heart attacks are twice as likely to be fatal than for men.
How Can I Help Myself?
For help getting your heart in shape, try these recommendations from the American Heart Association:
Finally, if you have any of the risk factors for heart disease, talk to your doctor about setting goals and managing your condition.
Originally published February 17, 2016
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