Often referred to as “the silent killer”, heart disease is a leading cause of death among American adults. Symptoms of heart issues can often be confused with other conditions or even ignored; resulting in deaths that could potentially be avoided. The term “heart disease” is used to cover a multitude of cardiovascular conditions. These conditions can be predetermined due to genetics or can develop over time, and some are more treatable than others. It is important to take the necessary precautions and adopt preventative habits that can lower your potential risk. Be aware of common risk factors that can directly affect your cardiovascular health.
Cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension) are often related to the “silent” part of a cardiovascular disease. Neither offers significant signs of concern without appropriate testing, resulting in many people being unaware that they may have these issues. Simple lifestyle modifications such as increasing the level of daily physical activity and eating less fatty foods can lower the risk of developing high cholesterol and hypertension.
Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products have been linked to an exceedingly high amount of chronic diseases. In fact, smokers have double the risk of experiencing a heart attack, when compared to the risk of non-smokers. Smoking is an important risk factor because it is modifiable; in other words we have the power to change it. When you quit smoking, your body begins to repair itself; within the first few months to the first few years, noticeable health improvements can begin to appear.
Another important risk factor for heart disease is our genetic makeup. Genetics can often serve as a predisposition in the potential for someone to develop heart disease; and unlike factors such as smoking, or diet, our genes are not something we can control. However knowing your family medical history is important in providing information about what conditions you may be at risk for developing. Sharing this history with your physician is also of importance.
Recent studies have shown the importance of adapting to a heart-healthy diet. Diets that including excessive amounts of salt, fats, and cholesterol are directly linked to the development of heart disease. Unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, can be found in many of the processed foods we consume regularly. By limiting the intake of fat-rich foods, and other processed items, you can directly combat your potential risk of heart disease. Increasing the intake of heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a regular basis lowers the risk of heart disease.