Heart disease affects thousands of Oklahoma residents. In fact, this disease is the number one cause of death in the state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease is sometimes referred to as a “silent killer” because it’s often not detected until too late. Fortunately, preventing some types of heart disease is possible.
Statistics on Heart Disease
In 2010, 9,426 Oklahomans died from heart disease, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Medical experts cite obesity as one of the main factors increasing the risk of heart disease in the state. Other factors, such as gender and ethnic background, also play a role. For example, the death rate for men in Oklahoma with heart disease was 50 percent higher than women in 2012. American Indians and non-Hispanic blacks had the highest death rates from heart disease in 2012.
While death rates have gone down overall, heart disease deaths are decreasing at a slower rate than the rest of the US. This highlights the importance of knowing what the signs of heart disease are and having heart problems detected as early as possible in order to reduce the risk of heart attacks or other life-threatening heart problems.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart disease doesn’t always cause symptoms that are easily recognizable, such as chest pain or a racing heart. That’s why it’s so important to know what to watch for, especially if you’re at risk due to obesity, family history, high cholesterol levels or other factors. Some common signs of heart disease include the following:
- Shortness of breath: Feeling as though you can’t catch your breath, especially when you haven’t been walking or running, is a serious symptom of heart disease. Keep in mind that you should call your doctor if you’re experiencing this and other possible signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain and sudden sweating.
- Coughing: If you have a constant cough, this could indicate heart failure, which occurs from a buildup of fluids in your lungs.
- Lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy is associated with more than one heart condition, including heart attacks and arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
- Chest tightness or pressure: Discomfort that feels like pressure or tightness, sometimes in the middle of your chest, can signal heart problems. In some cases, these feelings are only mild, but they can also be intense.
- Weakness and fatigue: Feeling unusually tired and weak or feeling fatigued all the time can be a sign of a heart attack or heart failure.
Preventing Heart Disease
Even if you’re at risk of heart disease, there are ways to lower this risk in most cases. While you can’t do anything to prevent heart defects, you can take steps to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or developing another form of heart disease. Making changes to your lifestyle can be an effective way to prevent heart disease. This includes changes such as:
- Limiting foods that have saturated fats or salt and following a healthy diet
- Losing excess weight and keeping it off
- Managing stress
- Quitting smoking
- Getting regular exercise
- Managing other medical conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure
Early detection is also important, especially since many heart disease symptoms aren’t obvious. If you suspect that you have heart disease, a low dose Electron Beam CT scan can determine if you have signs of it. This type of scan creates highly detailed 3D images of your heart and coronary arteries that show whether you have calcium deposits in your arteries. The Electron Beam CT scan is non-invasive and approved by the FDA. It features technology that is capable of showing early signs of calcium buildup, giving you more time to seek treatment before a heart attack or other serious heart condition occurs.