February 6, 2014

Heart Disease remains leading cause of death of Americans


COLUMBIA, TN. - Since the 1970s, heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, has been the leading cause of death for American men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for one out of every four deaths in the United States.

Heart disease refers to different types of heart conditions related to a process known as altherosclerosis, a condition that develops when cholesterol deposits (plaque) collect in arteries that supply blood to the heart, causing arteries to narrow and making it harder for blood to flow to the heart. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can result in a heart attack or stroke.

There are things that we can do to decrease our risk for heart disease and stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight by eating healthy meals, including foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet can lower blood pressure. Physical activity also helps in maintaining good heart health. The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes three to five days per week.

If you do have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, talk with your doctor about how you can work together to treat these conditions that can lead to heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and have your cholesterol tested as often as your doctor recommends. If your doctor determines medication is needed to treat any of these conditions, be sure to follow instructions carefully and faithfully. By practicing a heart healthy lifestyle and teaching our children to do so, we can greatly reduce the risk of heart attacks.

February has been designated as American Heart Month and Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) encourages everyone to take this opportunity to learn more about healthy heart practices and what to do if you or a loved one shows any of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Commonly they include: 

  • Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back, which can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
  • Discomfort in other parts of the upper body, one or both arms, neck, jaw, upper back or stomach
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness


“With heart disease being the leading cause of death of men and women, it is imperative that people learn to recognize these signs and symptoms for early treatment,” said MRMC Administrative Director of Cardiovascular Services Cathy Malone. “If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately call 911. Emergency personnel are highly trained, can begin treatment in the ambulance and will contact the emergency department so that physicians are ready and waiting for a patient as they arrive. A quick response can prevent permanent heart damage and could save your life.”

MRMC is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of heart disease. By combining the latest technology in diagnostics, surgery and rehabilitation with an extraordinary team of physicians and clinical staff, MRMC has been recognized by Truven Health Analytics as one of the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals in the United States. MRMC is a level III chest pain center offering cardiac services that include a diagnostic center, a cardiac catheterization laboratory, cardiothoracic surgery services and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation.

The MRMC Healthy Hearts Education Group offers quarterly programs on the self-care and management of heart disease. Their next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on February 27 in the MRMC Annex across from the medical center at 1223½ Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. Cardiologist Michael B. Kelly, M.D., and family medicine specialist Charles A. Ball, M.D., both on the MRMC medical staff, will be guest speakers at the February meeting. There is no charge to attend Healthy Hearts meetings and the public is invited. To learn more, call 931.381.1111, extension 4343. Information about cardiac services at MRMC is available at