Coronary artery disease
Clogged arteries often lead to this type of heart disease, which accounts for one in seven deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the American Heart Association. Plaque buildup in the main blood vessels of the heart stymie blood flow to the muscle. “This is the number one type of heart disease that we take care of,” says Sandhya Balaram, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular surgery at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Since arteries clog over time due to a variety of risk factors—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a sedentary lifestyle—many patients don’t notice any symptoms until there’s significant blockage. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, or even heart attack. These are the silent signs of a heart attack.
The heart is made up of four main valves, which open and close like doors to control blood flow. They’re usually soft like tissue paper, says Dr. Balaram, but when they become calcified (hard deposits of calcium accumulate) they become stiff and narrow, reducing blood flow. Valves can also not close properly, causing blood to leak back into the heart. Here are 15 life-saving tips to prevent heart disease.