Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why your heart/blood vessels may get sick (risk factors for heart disease and how they lead to illness), and how to prevent this from happening

Risk factors for heart disease can be roughly divided to major, or traditional (for sure associated with development of heart disease), and minor, or untraditional, which have less strong association with heart disease, but noted to contribute to development of heart disease, especially when combined together.

What are the major risk factors that can't be changed?

Heredity (including race) - Children of parents with cardiovascular disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African-Americans have more severe hypertension than whites. Consequently, their risk of heart disease is greater.

Gender - Men have a greater risk of heart attack than premenopausal women, and have attacks earlier in life.

Increasing age - About four out of five people who die of a heart attack are over 65. At older ages, women are twice as likely as men to die within a few weeks of a heart attack.

What risk factors can be changed?

Cigarette/tobacco smoke - Cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death. Smokers' risk of heart attack is more than twice that of nonsmokers. Giving up smoking is absolutely crucial for preventing early, aggressive heart disease. I will post a section on “Smoking: why it is bad and how to quit.” for details.

High blood cholesterol levels - The risk of coronary artery disease rises as blood cholesterol levels increase. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and cigarette smoke) are present, this risk increases even more. Everything here starts with healthy eating. I will post a section on “High cholesterol control and prevention” on detailed discussion of healthy eating.

High blood pressure - High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing it to enlarge and weaken over time. The force with which the heart pushes blood through the body is called "blood pressure." If blood vessels are narrowed because of atherosclerosis or other causes, the heart must pump harder than normal to circulate blood resulting in high blood pressure or hypertension. Eventually if hypertension is not well managed, the heart chambers may become enlarged and the heart muscle may thicken. The heart needs more oxygen to function, and its efficiency decreases. After many years of hypertension, heart failure may occur. High blood pressure also increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. When someone with high blood pressure is overweight, smokes, has high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack increases several times. For more information about lowering high blood pressure, read a section on High blood pressure control and prevention.
Physical inactivity - Even modest levels of low-intensity physical activity are beneficial if done regularly and long term. Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity as well as help to lower blood pressure. For more details read Exercise!

Obesity - People with an excessive amount of body fat are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart; it influences blood pressure and cholesterol, and can lead to diabetes. Healthy eating and exercise are the answers. Read subsequent blog posts on diet, exercise, and diet pills.

Stress - Scientists have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease and chronic stress. Read blog posts on stress role in heart disease and stress reduction strategies.

Substance abuse - People with a history of substance abuse, particularly cocaine and alcohol abuse place themselves at risk for heart disease.

1 comment:

  1. I am very happy to see your blog, very good article for audience,

    Each year, cardiac complications and diseased occur within 30 days after major non cardiac surgery in more than 10 million people worldwide.

    Today, however, the tether is fraying. How can we use technology to bring Cardiologist database in USA

    closer to patients rather than making them more remote?

    Small tips to avoid heart attack

    • Take responsibility for your health. ...
    • Know your risks. ...
    • Don't smoke or expose yourself to second-hand smoke. ...
    • Maintain a healthy blood pressure. ...
    • Monitor your cholesterol (blood lipids). ...
    • Limit your calories. ...
    • Make exercise a daily habit. ...
    • Pick your pills wisely.