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The Lowdown on Heart Disease

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With all the holidays goin' down in February like Valentine's Day and Groundhog Day, you might forget that it's also American Heart Month. Heart disease, which is also called cardiovascular disease, is the number one cause of death in the US. Learn more about it right here.

A Heart-to-Heart With Your Heart

The human heart is a muscle that works like a pump. The right side of the heart receives "blue" blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs to add oxygen. The left side receives this re-oxygenated "red" blood from the lungs and pumps it back out to the body.

Different Types of Heart Disease

If the heart and blood vessels don't pump properly, you can get sick and have heart disease.

  • Congenital Heart Disease - Congenital heart disease is the kind that you're born with, but it's not that common. It can be caused by heredity or viral diseases like the German measles.
  • Acquired Heart Disease - Acquired heart disease develops sometime during childhood as a result of illnesses like rheumatic fever.
  • Arrhythmia - Arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm of the heart. Normally, the heart beats at 50-150 beats per minute, but a person's heart can beat very fast (tachycardia) or very slow (bradycardia).
  • Heart Murmurs - A heart murmur is a whooshing sound between each heartbeat. The whoosh isn't serious, but is just an extra noise that the blood makes as it flows through the heart. However, sometime murmurs can be a symptom of larger problems.

What Are the Symptoms?

How Is it Treated?

Doctors who specialize in the heart are called cardiologists. They perform a series of tests to check your heart. A chest x-ray shows if the heart is enlarged, an electrocardiogram (EKG) checks the heart rhythm, and an echocardiogram (an ultrasound) looks at the heart's structure and function. If you're four or older, you may also have to do an exercise stress test to evaluate your heart and lungs.

Did U Know?

  • About 40,000 kids are born with heart disease every year.
  • So far, at least 35 different kinds of heart disease have been identified.
  • Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly lower the risk of heart disease.
  • One of the things that make health insurance affordable is group rates.
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