Understanding Heart Disease Risk Factors
Some risk factors for heart disease you can control and some you cannot. Coronary artery disease causes roughly 1.2 million heart attacks each year, and more than forty percent of those suffering from a heart attack will die. According to the American Heart Association, over 7 million Americans have suffered a heart attack in their lifetime.
The good news is that you don’t have to be one of the statistics if you simply modify your lifestyle. There are many key risk factors that, if ignored, can lead to cardiovascular disease. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing heart disease. The bad news is that some risk factors are out of your control.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
There are several risk factors for heart disease; some are controllable, others are not. Uncontrollable risk factors include:
- Family history
Still, there are many heart disease risk factors that can be controlled. By making changes in your lifestyle, you can actually reduce your risk for heart disease. Controllable risk factors include:
- High cholesterol and blood pressure
- Lack of exercise
Learn how to decrease your risk.
Physical activity and nutrition both can help decrease your risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Tom Stys, cardiologist from Sanford Heart Hospital, “If we follow the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple Seven’: stop smoking, getting active at least 30 minutes per day, following a reasonable diet, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure and reducing blood sugars, we will reduce the number of deaths from heart disease.” Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and staying away from salty, sugary and fried foods can benefit your heart health greatly. “Staying active in the winter months can be a challenge, says Dr. Stys. “It is important to find outdoor activities that you can enjoy like skiing, sledding or ice skating or, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, to get exercise indoors by walking at a gym, mall or on a treadmill, dancing or other activities.”
The warning signs of a heart attack include: discomfort in the chest, neck, back or jaw; shortness of breath; nausea or lightheadedness; and breaking out in a cold sweat.
Take action if you have one or more of these warning signs, call 911 immediately if the following occur:
- Call 911 within 5 minutes of the start of symptoms. Tell the operator you think you are having a heart attack. Even if your symptoms stop completely in less than 5 minutes, call your doctor.
- Chew and swallow one regular full-strength aspirin with water as soon as possible to prevent blood clotting.
- Do not drive yourself or let family or friends drive you to the hospital. Emergency personnel can
- Begin treating you on the way in an ambulance.
- At the hospital, make it clear that you are having symptoms of a heart attack. Ask for a complete cardiac evaluation, including an electrocardiogram (EKG) and a cardiac enzyme blood test.
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Posted Date: February 2011