More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, according to the National Health Council. As the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease has spurred numerous initiatives, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) creating the Million Hearts 2022 campaign to reduce the number of heart attacks by the year 2022.
Despite many great efforts aimed at spreading awareness and improving the state of heart health in the U.S., our recent consumer survey found that 71 percent of Americans incorrectly selected drug use, cancer, gun violence, vehicular accidents or other factors as the leading killers of Americans. Why the disconnect? The answer may be fear.
We found that 37 percent of people have avoided seeing a doctor over the fear of diagnosis, and the top dread of those who do see a doctor (30 percent) regarding cardiac care is misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. These concerns are not unreasonable. However, if you are at risk of heart disease, the best course of action is to talk to your physician to address any issues before they get worse.
Below are suggested questions that the American Heart Association recommends you ask your physician:
- What are my risk factors for heart disease?
- What are the warning signs of heart disease and stroke?
- Do I need to lose or gain weight to improve my health?
If you are at risk for heart disease, your doctor may suggest things like weight loss or gain, more physical activity, a healthy diet, getting more sleep or a consultation with a specialist.
Remember, your health is your own. The more you know and the more you communicate your concerns with a doctor, the better your chances of having a heart-healthy future.