Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and it can happen to anyone. While some risk factors, such as family history, are outside of your control, there are several factors you can manage to lower your risk.
Dr. Evan Allen and the rest of the team here at Total Care Family Practice care about your heart health. Even if you have a family history of heart disease, it doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop it.
In fact, controlling your risk factors is the best approach to lowering the chances of ever developing heart disease. We’ve gathered some helpful information about some of the most important heart disease risk factors.
High blood pressure
If you have hypertension, it’s vital to work with a physician to manage it. Over time, hypertension damages your blood vessels and increases your risk of developing heart disease.
High blood pressure can also lead to other health problems, such as stroke and kidney disease. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly and taking steps to control it through lifestyle changes or medication can help reduce your risk.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can build up in your arteries and contribute to atherosclerosis. High levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol in particular can increase your risk of heart disease.
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking cholesterol-lowering medication, if necessary, can help manage your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk. It’s important to get your cholesterol checked regularly, especially if you have a family history of high cholesterol.
Persistently high blood sugar levels damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of developing heart disease. If you have diabetes, you’re also more likely to have other heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking medication as prescribed can help manage your diabetes and reduce your risk.
Carrying excess weight
Being overweight raises the risk of heart disease in several ways, including contributing to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk.
Excess body fat is also an independent risk factor. Carrying too much body fat increases the risk of heart failure and also promotes chronic, low-grade inflammation, which has a negative impact on the health of your blood vessels.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Regular physical activity is important for maintaining heart health. A sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing heart disease, even if you don't have any other risk factors.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, and incorporate strength training exercises at least two days a week. This can help you maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure, and lower your cholesterol levels.
Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, overeating, and other unhealthy habits that can damage your heart. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as through exercise, meditation, or therapy, can help reduce your risk. It's important to make time for self-care and relaxation, and to avoid overworking or taking on too much responsibility.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for heart disease. Nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco can damage your blood vessels and increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in your arteries and restricts blood flow.
Quitting smoking is essential for heart health. Your risk of developing heart disease starts to decrease as soon as you quit, and after several years of being smoke-free, your risk can be nearly the same as that of someone who has never smoked.
Make your heart health a priority
By being aware of the risk factors and taking steps to manage them, you can significantly slash your risk of developing heart disease.
If you have concerns about your heart health, schedule a checkup to identify any potential issues early. Call our office in Henderson, Nevada, or submit your booking request online to schedule a heart health evaluation with Dr. Allen.