Heart Disease: The National Killer

Author: Branden Chen

Editor: Tharindi Jayatilake

Artist: Tiffany Chen

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths - approximately 600,000 Americans each year. Anyone, regardless of age, can develop heart disease, but heart disease refers to many different types of heart conditions, the most common type being coronary artery disease. Other conditions occur in the valves of the heart when the heart cannot pump blood well enough, leading to heart disease, which can be developed at birth. It is crucial to learn about heart disease and become aware of the risks and symptoms in order to prevent the development of this deadly disease.

Atherosclerosis is a common cause of heart disease that takes form when a substance known as plaque builds up in the wall of the arteries, which are vital for pumping blood away from the heart. As a result, the arteries become narrower and narrower, making it difficult for blood to flow through. This can cause the formation of a blood clot that completely blocks blood flow, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

Heart attack and strokes (both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes) are common complications of heart disease that can cause death. Heart attack occurs when blood flow to part of the heart is completely blocked by a blood clot. By blocking off the artery completely, the blood clot causes the heart muscle to gradually die. Although heart attacks can be deadly, most individuals survive their first heart attack. However, it is still important to take preventative measures to assure that it does not occur again. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain is blocked, typically by a blood clot. Once the blood supply is cut off, some of the brain cells begin to die and malfunction, resulting in the loss of function of that specific area of the brain, such as walking or talking. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, which can be caused by hypertension or high blood pressure. Strokes can have detrimental and permanent effects if too many brain cells die after being deprived of oxygen.

What does heart disease look like? It is important to identify symptoms to prevent a heart attack from becoming fatal. Symptoms include: prolonged chest pain, pain or discomfort throughout the body, weakness, nausea, cold sweat, shortness of breath, etc. However, there are also many lifestyle changes one can make to prevent a heart attack from occurring. Some examples include: refraining from smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, dieting healthily, exercising regularly, and treating other health problems. Heart disease kills too many, and you should take steps to a healthier lifestyle in order to prevent these health complications.

Citations:

CDC. “Heart Disease Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Sept. 2020,

www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

“What Is Cardiovascular Disease?” Www.Heart.Org, 2017, www.heart.org/en/health-

topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovasculardisease#:~:text=Heart%20disease

&text=Atherosclerosis%20is%20a%20condition%20that,a%20heart%20attack%20or

%20stroke. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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