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WHAT CAUSES IT? Heart disease—or cardiovascular disease, as it’s commonly called—is an umbrella term used to describe a myriad of heart conditions including arrhythmias (heart rhythm irregularities); congenital heart defects; coronary artery disease; and blood vessel disease. In many cases, heart disease occurs as a result of the narrowing of the heart’s arteries (because of a buildup of a substance called atheroma) or blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks, angina or stroke. There are many factors that can contribute to heart disease including obesity, high and dangerous levels of cholesterol, high blood tension (also known as hypertension), diabetes and unhealthy lifestyle habits including a diet high in saturated fats, smoking and physical inactivity. It is crucial to understand, however, that many forms of heart disease can be prevented with a change of lifestyle: a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables and a solid, regular exercise regime are key to maintaining a healthy weight and promote a stronger heart. SYMPTOMS The most common symptom of heart disease is chest pain. In some cases, people with heart disease may present with no symptoms whatsoever, so it is vital to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure everything is working as it should. The American Heart Association advises that those who experience more than one of the following symptoms may be experiencing heart failure: Shortness of breath. This may occur during exercise but also at rest. Sufferers may also experience breathlessness while lying flat. Persistent coughing or wheezing. The American Heart Association says that those with heart failure may cough up white or blood-tinged mucus. This occurs as a result of fluid buildup in the lungs. Swelling. Also known as ‘edema’, people with heart failure may experience swelling in the extremities such as the feet, ankles, legs and even the abdomen. With heart failure, the kidneys do not function as they should and aren’t able to process and dispose of sodium and water, which can also lead to fluid retention.

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According the leading charity the American Heart Association, a staggering 836,546 deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to cardiovascular disease. Moreover, the organization says that 92.1 million Americans are living with the disease every day, increasing the risk of other seriously harmful diseases, heart attack and stroke.

WARNING SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK The American Heart Association advises anyone experiencing the following heart attack warning signs to call 911 immediately: • Chest discomfort. • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. • Shortness of Breath. • Other signs including breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, light-headedness. Source: Heart.org

Fatigue. People with heart failure may experience extreme fatigue all the time which can make everyday tasks such as climbing the stairs difficult. Fatigue occurs when the heart isn’t able to pump enough blood—and therefore vital nutrients and oxygen—to the body’s tissues. Increased heart rate. The American Heart Association explains that those with heart failure may experience heart palpitations. This can feel as though the heart is racing or pounding in your chest. The heart beats faster and harder in order to pump oxygen around the body. HOW CAN GOLF HELP? The American Heart Association says that around one in every three U.S. adults—or 30.04 percent of the adult population—do not take up exercise, a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease. A 2017 study carried out by researchers in the U.K. found that people who play golf regularly are 30 percent less likely to experience coronary heart disease than those who don’t—and this is just one excellent reason to get onto the course. The great news for golfers is that this sport presents the perfect low-impact, high-result exercise for people of all ages. A brisk walk around an 18-hole golf course, which requires around 12,000 steps, provides excellent moderate-intensity exercise and exceeds the daily recommended steps as outlined by the government. An uptick in physical activity while playing golf increases heart rate, improves blood pressure and circulation, boosts energy, reduces cholesterol levels as well as the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Even if you have already been diagnosed with a form of heart disease, taking up golf can help to significantly improve the symptoms and overall quality of life. •

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