Top 5 Risk Factors for Heart Disease
- Posted on: Apr 5 2013
Heart disease, a blanket term used to describe a number of different diseases that affect the heart, is the leading cause of death among men and women. The Center for Disease Control reports that heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths in the United States – roughly 600,000 a year. What many don’t realize is that the condition is often preventable. While there are certainly contributing factors that are out of our hands, there are a number of behavioral and lifestyle choices that can put us at a higher risk. Ready to find out more?
Here are the top 5 risk factors for heart disease:
- Diet. A diet heavy in salt and saturated fat can result in obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – all major contributing factors for heart disease. For our patients, we often recommend a Mediterranean-style diet, which is abundant in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish. Read more about this here.
- Smoking. Beyond the obvious cancer risk, tobacco use is also one of the most serious risk factors for heart disease. Smoking decreases oxygen in the blood and can lead to a condition known as atherosclerosis — a thickening of the arterial wall. Caused by a buildup of tough voluminous plaque on the inner walls of the arteries, atherosclerosis results in restricted blood flow, which can eventually lead to coronary artery disease or aneurysms.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity is one of the most important weapons in the battle against heart disease. In fact, research has shown that just two and a half hours of moderate physical activity a week can lower your risk for heart disease by up to 30%!
- Obesity. As obesity can contribute to high blood pressure, it has been historically understood as an indirect risk factor for heart disease. Now, research is showing that being overweight can actually be a contributing factor for the condition, itself. Losing excess body fat — particularly in the midsection — can significantly reduce a patient’s risk.
- Family history. Unfortunately, some factors are not in our control. Those with a family history of heart disease present significantly higher risk, and are encouraged to take a proactive role in their heart health. Be sure to schedule regular physical exams and consider scheduling a Preventive Cardiac Evaluation.
It is also now possible to have a “window” to the arteries to actually see if they are healthy or not – whether they are prone to developing plaque and blockages that can lead to heart disease or heart attacks. Our office was the first in the state to offer the newest technology allowing people to understand the health of their arteries. Click here to read more about CardioHealth® Carotid IMT testing.
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To learn more about the risk factors for heart disease or to schedule an appointment – we encourage you to contact our office at (310) 659-0714. You can also fill out our online contact form or visit us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. We look forward to hearing from you.
Written by and/or reviewed by Mark K. Urman, MD and Jeffrey F. Caren, MD
Last updated: 04/05/2013
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Posted in: Heart Health Blog