According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States every year – that’s about 610,000 people who die every year because of heart disease.
Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease in the United States, is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of arteries that supply blood to the heart. Too much buildup and blood cannot flow effectively. When plaque buildup limits blood flow to the heart too much, a heart attack can happen. For many people, the first sign they have coronary artery disease is a heart attack.
It is important to know the early warning signs of a heart attack. Major symptoms include chest pain or discomfort, upper body pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats. If you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack – call 911 right away. The chances of surviving a heart attack are greatest when emergency treatment begins immediately.
Whether a heart attack happens or not, over time coronary artery disease can weaken the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure, a condition in which the heart becomes too weak to pump blood effectively throughout the body. About 5.7 million adults in the United States are living with heart failure, and the majority of cases are chronic, or long-term. The only cure is heart transplant; however, heart failure can be managed.
Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the quality and length of life for those living with heart failure. Treatment usually involves taking medications as well as lifestyle changes. Many people living with heart disease can benefit from chronic disease management and home telemonitoring programs.
Chronic disease management programs assist those with chronic conditions like heart failure to best manage their conditions through education, lifestyle changes, and medication management. This helps enable those dealing with heart failure to self-manage their condition and stay out of the hospital.
Home telemonitoring helps patients manage chronic conditions through daily monitoring, so interventions can be made before a small change becomes a big problem. For patients managing chronic diseases like heart failure, a change in condition can mean the difference between an ER visit or hospital stay versus remaining as healthy as possible at home. Telemonitoring patients use monitors in their homes to track vital signs and symptoms. Each day that information is analyzed and appropriate healthcare professionals are alerted if a change in medication or treatment is needed.
While it is important to properly manage heart disease once it has occurred, there are many things you can do to protect yourself and reduce your risk.
Do you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes? Keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level, lowering your blood pressure, and managing your diabetes help to reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle today can pay off through a healthier tomorrow free of heart disease.
Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
- Control your cholesterol
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Manage diabetes
- Take your medications
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity every week
- Quit smoking
- Limit your alcohol consumption
For more information on heart health, heart disease, heart attack, and symptoms to watch for, visit the American Heart Association’s website at heart.org.
SSM Health at Home nurses are certified by the National Association of Home Care in Chronic Disease Management. We also offer home telemonitoring for patients with certain diagnoses who meet certain criteria. For more information, please contact us online or call 1-800-924-2273.