According to statistics from the World Heart Foundation,Cardiovascular Heart Disease,” which includes heart disease and strokes, is the world’s leading cause of death!
The good news is that Cardiovascular Heart Disease is now mostly preventable and treatable, thanks to rapid advancement in medical science and progress with new diagnostic and treatment methods. By understanding and managing these risk factors, anyone suffering from Cardiovascular Heart Disease can substantially lower their risk of dying from heart disease.
What Are The Factors That Make A Person “At Risk” of Dying From Coronary Heart Disease?
There are many risk factors for dying from Coronary Artery Disease are broadly classified into two different groups.
The first of which group is called “The Modifiable” Group” due the fact the risk factors in this group can be changed. And the second group which is called “The Non-Modifiable Group” due to the fact that they cannot be changed.
OK, What Are The Risk Factors In The “Non-Modifiable Group?”
The risk factors in the Non-Modifiable Group that you have no control over are:
Age – The older a person gets, the more susceptible they are to have risk factors of having a heart attack and/or a stroke. For women, the effects of menopause, particularly the loss of natural production of estrogen, appears to increase their risk of coronary heart disease and strokes.
Gender – Men are 3 to 5 times more likely to have risk factors of Coronary Heart Disease than women! However, the risk factors increase for women increase significantly after they go through menopause. But, about 5 to 10 years following menopause, the risk of women having Coronary Heart Disease increases again to almost the same level as men!
Family History – Certain risk factors tend to run in some families than others. If there is a family history of heart disease in your immediate family (your grandparents, parents, siblings and children), you should do everything you can to try to control you risk factors that are Modifiable!
OK, What Are The “Modifiable Risk Factors?
Below Is A List of “Modifiable Risk Factors” That You Have Control Over:
High Blood Cholesterol – Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which is called the “Bad Cholesterol” is the cholesterol that increases the excessive build-up of fats within the arteries of your body that over time they can cause hardening of the arteries in your heart muscle until such time they become so stiff they reduce the flow of blood to your heart muscle that they can block the flow of blood to your heart that you have a heart attack!
The high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is called the “Good Cholesterol” is the cholesterol that carries the good cholesterol back to your liver and prevents the build-up of fats that can form plaque in your arteries which is a very good thing!
Here is the problem! High Blood Cholesterol does not cause any symptoms! That is why it is important that you check your cholesterol levels on a regular basis. That means once a year for a normal person wishing to monitor his or her cholesterol and more frequently as advised by their physician for those who have elevated levels and/or risk factors.
If your cholesterol levels are considered High, they can be lowered with medication that will help you reduce your susceptibility to having Coronary Heart Disease!
The desirable level of your cholesterol levels depends on your pre-existing risk for Coronary Heart Disease. The goal of course is to keep you total “Modifiable LDL Cholesterol” level as low as you possibly can!
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension –Hypertension is another major risk factors for anyone with Coronary Heart Disease or Strokes.
If you have ever been diagnosed as having ”High Blood Pressure” it is important that you check you’re your blood pressure at least once a month minimum!
“High Blood Pressure/Hypertension” is another one of the Risk Factors” that can occur without any symptoms at all!
However, if “High Blood Pressure” is left untreated, it can result in major damage to your heart and the blood vessels within your body and could eventually lead to you having a Stroke, Heart Attack or Renal Failure.
Occasionally, when a person’s blood pressure is extremely high, the person having it might start experiencing headaches, dizziness or changes in their vision!
A normal person’s blood pressure may vary from 90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg in a healthy young person.
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension is deemed present when a person’s blood pressure is persistently above 140/90mmHg.
However, if you have either Diabetes and/or Kidney disease, it is important that keep you blood pressure at around the 120/80mmHg level! That is because even a marginally higher level of blood pressure when you are suffering from these to illnesses will increase you risk of developing major complications!
If you are overweight, marginally elevated blood pressure may become normalized when you lose weight, exercise more and reduce your intake of salt!
However, if these measures are not successful, then medication may be needed! But once you start taking medications, it is essential that you continue with the treatment, which should be complemented with a healthy change in your lifestyle.
And if you suffer from High Blood Pressure/Hypertension, typically it is a lifelong battle for most people!
Diabetes & Abnormally High Levels of Sugar – Diabetes is a serious life-threatening chronic illness! People with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop Coronary Artery Disease and Strokes! Diabetes is often associated with all of the other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with decreased HDL-cholesterol levels and obesity.
The basic treatment strategy if you have Diabetes is to maintain good control over the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Maintaining a healthy weight balanced diet and a regular exercise routine can prevent the onset of diabetes.
Menopause – Before the onset of menopause, many women appear to be partially protected from coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes by the estrogen their bodies produce.
A woman’s estrogen levels are at the highest during her childbearing years and then decline during menopause. However, as they age, women start losing their natural production of estrogen and it may contribute to a higher risk of having heart disease and strokes after menopause.
After menopause, women have a more adverse biochemical profile which includes increased triglyceride, very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol levels or increased LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. These changes increase women’s risk of developing coronary heart disease.
If menopause is caused by surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries, the risk rises sharply!
If menopause occurs naturally, the risk rises gradually. However, routine hormone replacement for women who have undergone natural menopause does not prevent heart disease.
Obesity, Being Overweight – People who have excess body fat, especially if it located around their waist, are more prone to developing g heart disease and strokes even if they have no other risk factors.
Excess weight increased the strain on the heart muscle and raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels while lowering HDL the “Good” Cholesterol,” levels and may also be associated with the development of Diabetes.
Family history and the environment both play a part in determining obesity. Body fat typically increases when you consume more food calories than you require over a long period of time. Physical inactivity and a high fat diet also contribute to obesity.
Similarly, weight control (fat loss) is possible by decreasing food intake while increasing physical activity. If you use more calories because of increase physical activity, a gradual decrease in body weight will take place. Weigh loss leads to a decrease in blood pressure, blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels.
Physical Inactivity – Is another risk factor of Coronary Heart Disease. Regular physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease. Moderate intensity activities will help if they are done regularly and over a period of time.
Regular exercise may also lead to improvement in other cardiovascular risk factors, such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, decreased stress and improved cholesterol levels.
Exercise programs should start at a slow pace initially to avoid injury to your muscles and ligaments. While the risks of exercise are minimal, people with known coronary artery disease, or those above 40 years of age who have been inactive for a long period of time should seek medical advice before starting a regular exercise program.
Smoking – It is a well known proven fact that smoking leads to Coronary Heart Disease which causes heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, blood vessel disease, cancer and lung disease.
That is the reason smokers have 2 to 3 times the risk of non-smokers of sudden cardiac death. In fact, smoker account for about 40% of the deaths caused by heart disease in patients who are younger than 65 years.
When a person smokes, the nicotine in the smoke speeds up his or her heart rate and raises their bold pressure and disrupts the flow of blood and air in the lungs.
The carbon monoxide in the smoke also lowers the amount of oxygen carried in the blood to the rest of the person’s body, including the heart and the brain. Smoking also causes a decrease in HDL cholesterol.
Stress – Stress causes your blood pressure goes up momentarily when you get angry, excited, frightened or when you are under stress. If you are constantly stressed over a prolonged period of time, you may at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure.
Stress affects everyone and may cause palpitation, headaches, insomnia and digestive symptoms. Prolonged stress may contribute to a heart attack.
Emotional stress and tensions also cause your body to produce adrenaline, which makes the heart pump faster and harder and may also cause the blood vessels in your body to narrow and get hard over time.
Conclusion – While we might not be able to do much about the “Non-Modifiable” risk factors, we can, and should do, everything we can to work on the “Modifiable” risk factor s in this article to reduce the risk of dying from Coronary Artery Disease!
Knowing and actively managing each of your “Modifiable” risk factors is the best way to try and prevent and/or delay the onset of Coronary Heart Disease and lessening its impact on our lives in the future!