More than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease a year. So in honor of American Heart Month, we take a closer look at the causes ... and how to lower the odds.
"For a vast majority of people, heart disease manifests as blocked arteries feeding the heart muscle. You can also have electrical problems of the heart, valvular problems. Primary heart muscle problems." And Freeman Cardiologist John Cox says there are a range of risk factors to blame. For many patients, it's genetics. But smoking, lack of exercise and poor nutrition also are to blame.
"Our diet is a primary target. We should reduce the amount of red meat in our diet. There's a thing called the Mediterranean Diet and that's been researched and accredited in lots of accredited medical journals as being the most heart healthy diet there is. We all get older, we all have things happen to us but by keeping in shape and keeping our body weight down, it helps a lot." Dr. Cox says it's easier to spot the warning sign when you're in good shape. "It's usually an unexpected lack of normal things, profound drop off in your exercise tolerance, shortness of breath, maybe some pressure or squeezing in the chest all those things are warning signs."