As both of these diseases are to some extent avoidable, we have also provided a discussion of preventative steps you can take to decrease your chances of having to deal with heart disease, or to minimize the negative effects of existing heart disease.
Please note that though this information is as accurate as possible, it is no substitute for a qualified physician's advice. Consult with your doctor before making changes to any treatment regimen you may be prescribed, and before beginning any program of exercise or other significant lifestyle change, especially if you have a known heart problem or are a middle-aged or older adult.
There is no substitute for your doctor's advice. Although heart disease can occur in different forms, there is a common set of core risk factors that influence whether someone will ultimately be at risk for heart disease or not. We start our discussion of heart disease by describing these common risk factors, and then move on to cover specific conditions. There are many factors that can increase your risk of getting heart disease.
Some of these factors are out of your control, but many of them can be avoided by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle. Some of the risk factors you cannot control are:. A person's family history of heart disease risk factors may also be affected by their ethnic background. For example, African Americans have a higher rate of hypertension. Since having uncontrolled high blood pressure increases an individual's chance of developing heart disease, African Americans tend to have a higher risk of developing heart disease.
While your family background is not a certain indication that you will get heart disease, it can greatly increase your chances. Fortunately, there are many other risk factors for heart disease that can be addressed by lifestyle habits and regular preventative medical care. Some of the more controllable risk factors include:. Cholesterol, a type of fat molecule, is an essential part of healthy cell membranes, and as such, is an essential part of a healthy body.
Too much cholesterol in your blood, however, puts you at increased risk of heart disease. High levels of cholesterol and other fatty substances can cause Atherosclerosis, a disease in which fatty plaques build up on blood vessel walls, restrict blood flow to the heart and can ultimately cause a heart attack.
There are two different types of cholesterol: High levels of LDLs increase your chance of having a heart attack. In contrast, the higher your HDLs, the more protection you have against heart attacks.
Your cholesterol levels are determined by a combination of age, gender, heredity, dietary choices and exercise. LDL cholesterol can be decreased through exercise and dietary changes such as avoiding saturated and trans fats. The best way to raise your HDL cholesterol is through exercising. If your cholesterol levels cannot be kept at a safe level the optimal number depends on your age, family history, and medical history such as whether you have diabetes or a history of heart attacks with diet and exercise changes, then you and your physician can consider a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medications.
People with a history of diabetes or heart attacks need to keep their LDL cholesterol lower than individuals who do not have that history.
Uncontrolled blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease. The higher your blood pressure, the harder it is for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. Like any other stressed muscle, an overloaded heart responds to exertion by growing bigger; by thickening its walls and increasing it's overall size. While these changes sound positive, they actually are harmful and are signs of heart disease.
As the walls of the heart thicken, the heart chamber's volume becomes greatly reduced and less blood can be pumped each time the heart beats. Also, the thickened muscle walls make it harder for the heart to pump out what blood it is able to collect. Exercise, a healthy diet and medication if needed can all help maintain a healthy blood pressure and therefore, a healthy heart.
As mentioned above, diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. A diabetic person's risk of developing heart disease is equivalent to the risk of a person who has had a previous heart attack. Diabetes is a disease of blood sugar regulation. People with diabetes are at greater risk for heart disease if their blood sugar is not kept under good control.
In addition, diabetics also need to control their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, the cholesterol goal for a diabetic is as low as the goal for a person who has had a previous heart attack.
Stress, drinking too much alcohol, and depression have all been linked to cardiovascular disease. Drinking can lead to higher blood pressure and obesity.
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When I was thinking of a written source of information on heart disease I thought I would try to find something in the encyclopedia. Then, I looked online for sources of information on some web sites that I thought might have some information on them.
Heart Disease in America Team D (Jessica Chavis, Pamela McClary, Pamela Stevenson & LaRicia Garrett) HCS/ January 7, Larrell Wilkinson Heart Disease in America Introduction A general term to describe the functional and health ability of the heart muscles is called heart disease. Heart disease is a general term relating to diseases affecting the circulatory system. In , it became one of the leading causes of death in most developed countries. The main risk factors for the heart disease are hereditary, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, excess weight, and smoking, whether active or passive.
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