What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a general term that includes several conditions, the most common of which is coronary artery disease (CAD). With CAD, a person’s arteries narrow and harden over time, as a result of the buildup of plaque in the arteries. As arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart is reduced, putting a person at risk for a heart attack.
Other kinds of cardiovascular disease include a condition affecting the heart’s valves, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which is a narrowing of the peripheral arteries, such as those in the pelvis and legs.
In the U.S., heart disease is responsible for about 630,000 deaths each year, making it the No. 1 killer.
A person with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes has an increased risk for heart disease. It’s also important to realize that heart disease is not a man’s disease—women with these risk factors should talk to their doctors as well.
By seeing your doctor for routine exams and taking advantage of screenings, you can detect heart disease risks early and make healthy decisions.
Treatment Options for Heart Disease
The greatest controllable risk factors for heart disease and heart attack are smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. That’s why lifestyle changes are often the first step in controlling heart disease.
To reduce your risk:
- Don't smoke
- Keep blood pressure in a healthy range
- Lower your cholesterol
- Get plenty of exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy, low-fat, high-fiber diet
- Limit alcohol
- Keep stress at manageable levels
In addition to lifestyle changes, a cardiologist may prescribe medications to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, prevent blood clots and allow blood to flow more easily.
If necessary, an interventional cardiologist can use surgical procedures to physically expand the arteries to help prevent a heart attack.
Why Parrish Medical Center
Cardiovascular care at Parrish Medical Center combines advanced cardiovascular services and personalized care. Our expert interventional cardiologists use the latest technology to diagnose and understand each person’s heart condition. Then, our team of doctors, nurses, dietitians and more work with you to help fight your heart disease and protect you from a heart attack.
PMC now offers one simple test that allows you to find out if you’re at risk for heart attack or stroke. The PLAC Test is the only blood test cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to aid in assessing risk for both coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke associated with atherosclerosis. The test measures the level of Lp-PLA2 (lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2), an enzyme associated with artery inflammation. The PLAC Test is available at all Parrish Direct Access Testing locations.
Also at PMC, the PAD (peripheral arterial disease) Network is an essential element of our cardiovascular program. PAD affects millions of Americans, but few recognize the signs and the disease progresses. PAD Network physicians, which include family practice, internal medicine, geriatrics, orthopedics, pulmonology, cardiology and alternative medicine physicians, are trained to look for underlying heart or carotid artery disease, which could prevent a future heart attack or stroke.
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