Heart disease is our No. 1 killer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 785,000 Americans have a first heart attack. Another 470,000 who have already had one or more heart attacks have another attack. As you get older, it's important to have regular check ups, live a heart-healthy lifestyle and understand the warning signs.
A CDC survey revealed that 92 percent of respondents recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. But only 27 percent were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 911 when someone was having a heart attack. Fact is, about 47 percent of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital, which leads one to believe that many people with heart disease don't know or act on early warning signs. In general, those signs are chest discomfort; shortness of breath; discomfort or pain in the upper body; cold sweats, nausea or light-headedness. Any of these signs should be taken seriously and you should go to the hospital.
Are You at Risk? Know the Contributors
Here's a look at the percentage of U.S. adults with heart disease risk factors in 2006:
- Inactivity: 40 percent
- Obesity: 34 percent
- High blood pressure: 31 percent
- Cigarette smoking: 21 percent
- High cholesterol: 16 percent
- Diabetes: 10 percent
Heart-Health Timelines: Test Your Ticker