Happy Heart Health Month!

Heart disease is the leading cause of​ ​death in the United States.

By CHA Cardiologist Lilian Joventino, MD

February is the American Heart Association's annual celebration of Heart Health Month. Did you know that heart disease is the greatest cause of death for both men and women living in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

Heart disease refers to a few different kinds of conditions. The most common type is coronary artery disease, which can cause a heart attack. Each year, more than 700,000 people across the country have a heart attack. A heart attack generally presents with symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or fatigue. It is a condition that occurs when part of the heart muscle experiences lack or decreased blood flow as a result of a blocked coronary artery. A coronary artery is a blood vessel that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.

Other types of heart disease involve the valves in the heart, or the heart may not pump well and cause shortness of breath due to heart failure. Some people are actually born with heart disease. Another form of heart disease is abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation may cause palpitations, shortness of breath, or fatigue; and it is one of the most common causes of stroke. Strokes caused by atrial fibrillation may be preventable with medications such as blood thinners.

Is there any positive news? Well, luckily many forms of heart disease are preventable or treatable illnesses. Here are five ways you can prevent heart disease today:

  • Don’t smoke and if you need help quitting click here to learn about CHA's Tobacco Treatment Program.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes - remember a walk at lunch counts!
  • Reduce stress because it may contribute to cardiovascular disease and, if severe, can increase the risk of a heart attack.

Lifestyle changes (like those listed above) can help lower your risk of heart disease and prevent complications. Talk with your doctor about the best ways to reduce your heart disease risk.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.