(HealthDay News) -- For many Americans, heart disease is thought of as something that happens to "somebody else." And if the condition develops, they reason, it's fixable.
Wrong on all counts, say federal health officials.
Heart disease kills more people in the United States than anything else. According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, it tops that list for both men and women. About half of the half-million Americans who die of heart disease each year are women. It's not an old-age problem, the agency warns, as risk starts increasing at mid-life. And it can plague those who say they feel fine. More than half of those who die suddenly of heart disease had no symptoms.
Heart disease also cannot be "cured" by surgery, the agency explains. Once you get it, you'll always have it. Surgical procedures such as angioplasty and bypass can ease symptoms by helping blood and oxygen flow more freely to and from the heart, but the blood vessels remain damaged and will steadily worsen unless lifestyle changes -- such as a better diet and more exercise -- are instituted, according to the agency.
That's why health experts urge people to take action to prevent heart disease from ever developing.
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