Mortality rates throughout the UK have fallen significantly over the course of the last century, not only due to advances in healthcare but also thanks to a greater understanding of what it takes to live a healthy, long life. However, both men and women still face the risk of developing a disease that could have lasting implications on their quality of life. Heart disease, an umbrella term used to define a range of conditions affecting the heart, is a leading cause of fatal health complications among men aged 50 to 64, 65 to 79, and those 80 years or older. Women also experience heart disease at an alarming rate, with nearly 11% of women over the age of 80 dying from a serious heart health condition. Among women aged 65 to 79, and those 35 to 64, heart disease is the second and fourth leading cause of death, respectively.
Given the prevalence of heart disease among men and women age 35 and older, there has been a push in medical circles and patient advocacy groups to increase awareness of the potentially fatal condition through new, innovative techniques. This year, the British Heart Foundation, Public Health England, and NHS Choices collaborated to develop an online self-assessment tool called Know Your Heart Age. Anyone can take the short, easy-to-navigate exam to determine the age of their heart compared to their actual age, as well as receive direction on how to reduce the risks of developing heart disease by managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Although the Know Your Heart Age self-assessment is a step in the right direction toward prevention of heart disease, men and women alike can be proactive in their fight against the common health issue by learning about the factors that cause heart disease and other methods for preventing it.
A Variety of Causes
Regardless of age, heart disease can take place due to one or more of the following common health conditions in men and women:
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
- High blood cholesterol level
- Complications of diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of coronary heart disease in a family member who is under the age of 55 for men or 65 for women
Living an unhealthy lifestyle may also contribute to the development of heart disease as one ages. Not getting enough regular exercise, eating an unbalanced diet that is high in fat, and smoking or excessive drinking of alcohol can also be underlying causes of heart disease.
Heart disease has a plethora of causes, but the health condition is always linked to a build-up of atheroma, or fatty deposits, on the walls of the arteries that surround and support the heart muscle. As deposits accumulated over time, the arteries become narrow, making it challenging for the blood to flow to the heart muscle. When heart disease develops, both men and women may experience a heavy feeling in their chest, most often linked to a heart attack, dizziness or confusion, swelling due to excess fluid in the body, or a shortness of breath.
Steps to Reduce Heart Disease Risks
Although there are several steps a person can take to help prevent heart disease, some issues that create complex medical conditions or fatality may be difficult to avoid. A team of medical negligence solicitors from a medical that deals with explains that recent research points to an alarming statistic relating to heart disease and resulting heart attacks in adults. One of three patients seen by a doctor who is experiencing a heart attack is initially misdiagnosed in A&E units. Without a proper diagnosis at the start, patients suffering from a heart attack due to heart disease are left with life-altering consequences that often lead to a diminished quality of life.
Men and women can take a stand in the fight against heart disease by speaking openly with their doctor before drastic symptoms or a heart attack or other related health issue take place. Part of this process may include undergoing an in-depth heart health screening which tests for specific indicators of the condition, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose. Taking the Know Your Heart Age self-assessment is a smart first step in preventing heart disease from progressing, but men and women alike should also invest in learning more about the risk factors associated with the prevalent health condition and take steps to improve their lifestyle when necessary.