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American Heart Month

Heart Disease

            Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women? Approximately 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That’s 1 in every 4 deaths. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease can consist of plaque build-up in the wall of the arteries which can make it harder for blood to flow through. Heart disease can result in complications such as: heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

Risk Factors

            High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are significant heart disease risk factors. Almost half of Americans have one of these mentioned risk factors. Additional risk factors for heart disease includes diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use.


            It is important to be familiar of heart disease symptoms and discuss concerns with your health care provider. Heart disease may be found early with regular evaluations. Symptoms of heart disease can include:

  • Chest discomfort, chest pain, chest pressure, chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, weakness in your legs or arms
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back
  • Swelling in legs, ankles, and feet


Good news, it is possible to help prevent many types of heart disease by making the following lifestyle choices:

  • Quit smoking
  • Control health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week
  • Eat a diet that is low in salt and saturated fats
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce and manage stress
  • Establish and schedule regular evaluations with your primary care provider


To learn more about heart disease talk with your health care provider. You can also learn more from the following resources:

Mayo Clinic

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention




Hilary Shoemaker, FNP, practices at our Hamilton Medical Clinic. Schedule an appointment with Hilary by calling 816-583-2151.