The Big Picture: Heart disease is the number one cause of death for all Americans. This was true for more women than men until recently when the numbers became closer.

What It Is: the heart muscle is nourished by the coronary arteries. The lining of the arteries can be weakened by inflammation caused by high cholesterol and an unhealthy lifestyle. Plaque results, and when it ruptures, heart attacks and strokes can occur.

Did You Know? Once diagnosed, and once the level of risk is identified, many risk factors can be targeted, and these issues can be halted, and even reversed.

Why It Matters: Survivors can often be left with a miserable existence because of difficulty in breathing (congestive heart failure), chest pain or angina, recurrent heart attacks, and loss of normal physical and social activities.

Prevention: The composition of plaque in the arteries is now identifiable and this indicates specific therapies. Soft, non-calcified plaque, previously invisible, is the leading cause of heart attacks, and treatment and preventive strategies can be tailored to address it. Once you know your risk level and target those factors, you are empowered to reverse them.

What’s Next? HeartCare has been practicing heart attack prevention for over thirty years. Inflammatory markers and plaque composition are measured, the level of risk is identified, and lifestyle and treatment goals are tailored for each person to achieve.

Michael J. Wong MD, FAHA, 2023