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Heart disease is the number-one killer, but can you identify the risks?

HOUSTON – The majority of people know heart disease is the number one killer of men and women, but MDVIP – a network of primary care doctors - says most people still fail to recognize risk factors of and prevention tips for a heart attack.

The company proved this by testing people with a quiz asking simple questions like “Which of these foods have the most cholesterol?” and “Do you know what really causes a heart attack?” 

About 62 percent of people failed the quiz, and that's where doctors say we have a major problem - because lack of knowledge is killing us.

“The heart is a motor, and when that motor is hurt it's hard to make that motor work really hard,” said cardiologist Jonathan Aliota from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Aliota said patients don't recognize inconspicuous signs of a heart attack. In other words, he says if it doesn't feel like an elephant sitting on their chest, they might ignore it, and this is especially true for women.

According to MDVIP, only 26 percent of women are aware that females have a lower chance of surviving a first heart attack compared to males. 

"Studies say that women have more atypical features when they have a heart attack,” Aliota said. “I think women read this and start to worry when they have left arm pain, which is a traditional sign or left-hand tingling. However, what we always encourage people to think about is to look for symptoms that happened with activity. So symptoms that occur when you're walking upstairs or walking to the grocery store or exercising. Whether that should be chest pressure or left arm tightness."

Those less-intense activities that you probably used to do just fine and suddenly have problems with are definitely ones you want to speak with your doctor about.

If you think you might not be as familiar with heart attacks as you thought, take a moment to discuss your risk factors with your doctor at your next appointment.