Heart disease, which is commonly referred to as cardiovascular disease, is the leading cause of death for Americans, and also the leading cause of death worldwide. As a classification, heart disease is an umbrella term that describes a range of conditions that affect the heart, such as blood vessel diseases like coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems; and congenital heart defects.
The heart disease statistics are staggering, and while there isn’t always a way to change genetically predisposed risk factors for heart disease, there are risk factors for heart disease associated with lifestyle choices that can radically increase your odds of developing a cardiovascular disease.
Here are the top 5 risk factors for heart disease, that you can actually do something about.
Smoking or using any method of tobacco is one of the most noteworthy risk factors for developing heart disease. Tobacco and the chemicals in cigarettes can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and elevate your blood pressure, both of which may ultimately lead to a heart attack. Quitting smoking is the best decisions you can make for your heart health.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension over time causes the arteries around your heart to narrow and thicken. As this occurs, blood clots are more likely to form and lead to a heart attack. In addition to losing weight, exercising and eating a balanced diet, reducing your stress can improve your blood pressure.
Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol can cause buildup on the insides of your arteries and cause the hardening of arteries—or atherosclerosis—which can slow blood flow to the heart and may cause a heart attack. High cholesterol can also be managed with diet, exercise and moderation, but your doctor may recommend a prescription medication if it doesn’t improve.
Poor diet and obesity have been linked to poor heart health. High-fat, high-sodium and high-sugar foods can eventually cause blocks in your arteries. Choosing foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium can decrease your risk of heart disease and improve cardiac health. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
Being overweight or obese can severely increase your risk for cardiac disease. It’s never too late to lose weight and get back on track. In addition to a healthy diet, slowly work your way up to larger amounts of physical activity. Start small, by walking around your neighborhood or just your house then try brisk walking and even jogging.
These are lifestyle changes you can make today to decrease your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease. If you would like to learn more about the risk factors for heart disease, and how to adjust your lifestyle to decrease your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease, contact us today!