Did you know that heart disease, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.
And about 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
Seeing these statistics can be discouraging, but don’t lose heart (no pun intended), there are steps you can take to prevent heart disease like managing your stress, staying active, making healthy food choices, limiting your alcohol consumption and not smoking.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Though there are factors you can control when it comes to heart disease, there are also some you cannot. Below we share a list of both.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart muscle to thicken and become stiffer. It also increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.
High Cholesterol: Some cholesterol is “good,” and some is “bad.” High cholesterol is the term used for high levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which are considered “bad” because they can lead to heart disease. A higher level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL, is considered “good” because it provides some protection against heart disease.
Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, but the risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well controlled.
Diet and Nutrition: A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease. The food you eat (and the amount) can affect other controllable risk factors: cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and overweight. Choose nutrient-rich foods — which have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories — over nutrient-poor foods.
Physical Inactivity: Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease. It also can increase the chances of having other medical conditions that are risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease.
Obesity: People who have excess body fat — especially if a lot of it is at the waist — are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors.
Too Much Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure levels and the risk for heart disease. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a form of cholesterol, which can harden your arteries.
Tobacco use increases the risk for heart disease and heart attack. Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions such as atherosclerosis and heart attack. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
Stress: Having too much stress, for too long, is bad for your heart. If you’re often stressed, and you don’t have good ways to manage it, you are more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain, or irregular heartbeats.
Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other related conditions.
Age: Your risk for heart disease increases as you get older.
Sex: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life. Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, it’s not as great as men’s.
Race or Ethnicity: African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans.
Again, don’t let this list discourage you. You may not be in control of your age, sex, race, and family history, but you cancontrol your lifestyle choices.
All content and information are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for the advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment by a qualified medical practitioner.
Before starting any diet or exercise regimen, check with your physician to see what’s best for you.
Proactive Risk Solutions is committed to promoting healthy lifestyles. The Proactive Health Management Plan allows us to provide more benefits for employees while helping business financials.
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