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Whether you’ve been eating an unhealthy diet for years or recently decided to make some healthier choices, educating yourself on which foods to stock up on and which foods to avoid will put you on your way to eating heart smart.

What you’re eating can be detrimental to your heart health. The choices we make with regard to food and overall diet can lead to heart problems including circulation problems that can cause heart attack and stroke.  Whether you’ve been eating an unhealthy diet for years or recently decided to make some healthier choices, educating yourself on which foods to stock up on and which foods to avoid will put you on your way to eating heart smart. 

About Heart Disease 

Heart disease is a term that encompasses many conditions and diseases that can affect your heart.  Under the umbrella of heart disease can be many conditions including cardiovascular disease, congenital defects, infections and arrhythmias. The most prominent type of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, refers to plaque build up in the arteries or a narrowing of the blood vessels that can lead to heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease can be controlled or prevented in part by healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms of heart disease vary according to the type of heart disease you are suffering from. In persons with cardiovascular disease, symptoms may not be present until a heart attack, stroke or angina is imminent. However, regular visits to your physician can monitor for cardiovascular disease. Symptoms of cardiovascular disease include: shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness and tingling or cold sensation in the extremities. 

Causes 

Depending upon the type of heart disease a person has, the causes will vary. However, cardiovascular disease or fatty-plaque build-up in the arteries is typically linked to being overweight, smoking and an unhealthy diet.  In addition, other medical conditions can lead to heart disease including diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Risk Factors 

There are many factors that can increase your risk for developing heart disease including getting older and being male. Other risk factors associated with heart disease include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, stress, smoking and obesity. 

Many of these risk factors can be reduced with changes made to diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. 

Diagnostic Tests 

No matter what type of heart disease you are suspected of having, your doctor will likely begin with a physical examination and medical history before performing any other tests. Your doctor will then order diagnostic tests depending upon what type of heart disease your symptoms point to. Diagnostic tests may include: blood tests, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, CT scan, MRI, cardiac catheterization or biopsy. 

Treatment Options 

Treatment options for heart disease will vary depending upon the type of heart disease you have been diagnosed with.  Treatment options may include medications, surgical procedures or open-heart surgery.  However, many types of heart disease, including cardiovascular disease, will require you to make lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, exercising and eating a healthier diet. 

Prevention 

Congenital heart defects cannot be prevented, however, many other types of heart disease can be prevented.

In order to prevent heart disease it is important to maintain a healthy weight and control any underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Other prevention measures include: quitting smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet low in saturated fats and sodium, managing stress, exercising at least 30 minutes per day and practicing good hygiene. 

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