Heart Disease: Know Your Risks

Thursday, January 27, 2022
Jacklyn Karli, CNP
Jacklyn Karli, CNP

In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women.  It is responsible for over 600,000 deaths annually, which further breaks down to an alarming 1 in 4 deaths (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021).  Heart disease does not discriminate; it can affect all ages, genders, and ethnicities.  There are many types of heart disease, such as coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias. 

Coronary artery disease is a common type of heart disease.  It is related to a process called atherosclerosis, in which plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries and causes narrowing of the arteries, which may lead to a heart attack.  In the United States, every 40 seconds, someone is diagnosed with a heart attack (CDC, 2021). 

Warning signs of a heart attack may include chest pain, tightness, or discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulders, indigestion, nausea, fatigue, light-headedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Although heart disease is the leading cause of death, it is also one of the most preventable diseases.  You can take several steps to minimize your risks of developing heart disease or minimize the current progression of your heart disease.  Risk factors are broken down into modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.  Non-modifiable risk factors are those that we cannot change, while modifiable risk factors are those that we can take an active stance in through lifestyle changes. 

Non-modifiable risk factors include gender, age, and family history or genetics.  On the other hand, modifiable risk factors include tobacco smoke, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, alcohol, stress, and nutrition.

February is American Heart Month, a time when we spotlight the leading cause of death and encourage people to focus on their health.  Take action today and minimize your risk of developing heart disease!  The American Heart Association (2022), encourages individuals to follow "Life's Simple 7" to achieve good cardiovascular health and control their modifiable risk factors.  Life's Simple 7 includes: managing your blood pressure, controlling your cholesterol, reducing your blood sugar, getting active, eating better, losing weight, and to stop smoking.

If you have symptoms of heart disease, have just been diagnosed, or have had heart disease for years, take control and schedule an appointment with your personalized Cardiology Team at Prairie Lakes Cardiology Clinic today at 605.882.7777.


American Heart Association. (2022). My Life Check: Life's Simple 7.  https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/my-life-check--lifes-simple-7

Center for Disease Control and Prevent. (2021). Heart Disease.  https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm

Written by Jacklyn Karli, DNP, APRN-BC, CNP, CHFN
Last modified on Thursday, February 03, 2022