Could you be at risk for heart disease? Also known as cardiovascular disease, the disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. Your Brandon, FL, primary care physicians, Drs. Joel and Elizabeth Biggers of Biggers Family Medicine, can help you protect your health and decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease includes several different types of conditions, including narrowing of blood vessels and arteries, heart valve problems, abnormal heartbeats/rhythm, and defects, diseases, and conditions that affect the heart muscle.
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a common cause of heart disease. It occurs when plaque collects in the walls of arteries, impeding the normal flow of blood to the heart and brain. Plaque, a substance comprised of cholesterol, calcium, and fat, is soft and sticky at first but soon becomes hard and inflexible.
Who is at risk for heart disease?
You may be more likely to develop heart disease if:
- You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- You're a man or a post-menopausal woman.
- You're 65 or older.
- You smoke.
- Other members of your family have had heart disease.
- You often eat foods that are high in salt, sugar, cholesterol, and fat.
- You often feel stressed.
- You have diabetes.
- You're obese or don't exercise regularly.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Chest pain doesn't always occur if you have heart disease. In fact, many symptoms of heart disease can be subtle at first. Symptoms may not occur at all during the early stages of the disease. In addition to chest pain, symptoms may include:
- Palpitations or fluttering in your chest or throat
- Racing heart or skipped heartbeats
- Pressure in the chest, arm, shoulder, jaw, abdomen, or back
- Swelling in your ankles, feet, or hands
- Fatigue after minor exertion
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
It's important to pay a visit to your Brandon doctor if you have any of these symptoms or have risk factors for heart disease. Go to the emergency room immediately if you experience chest, jaw, or arm pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, fainting, sweating, or pressure or a squeezing sensation in your chest.
Concerned? Give us a call
Are you concerned that you may have heart disease? Call your primary care physicians in Brandon, FL, Drs. Joel and Elizabeth Biggers of Biggers Family Medicine, today by dialing (813) 655-4646.