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What is Heart Disease?

What is Heart Disease?

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease refers to conditions that can affect how your heart works. Arteries supply blood to the heart muscle and brain. When there is a buildup of plaque containing cholesterol inside the artery walls, the arteries begin to narrow or become blocked resulting in a decrease in blood flow. This accumulation of plaque in the arteries can cause:

Heart attack. This condition occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. The lack of blood flow or oxygen may cause part of the heart muscle to die.

Heart failure, or sometimes called congestive heart failure, means the heart is working, but it is not pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

Other facts about heart disease can be found in the health library.

Symptoms

Your physician may detect signs of heart disease before your symptoms occur; however, pay close attention to these warning signs:

Heart attack symptoms:

  • Chest pain or uncomfortable pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat or back
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating

Heart failure symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Chronic coughing or wheezing
  • Swelling of abdomen, legs, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • High heart rate

Risk Factors

Your chance of developing heart disease increases if you have some of the risk factors below:

  • Advancing age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Stress
  • Poor dental hygiene
11116 Medical Campus Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
301-790-8000
TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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