Love Your Heart

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, followed by cancer, chronic lung disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of death in 2012 from heart disease was 170 in every 100,000 people.

Thanks to advancement in technology, education and innovative pharmaceuticals, in the USA there has been about a 70-percent decline in death rates from heart-related causes from 1950 till 2012.Sadly, with respect to cancer related deaths, only a 10-percent decline in the death rate has been noted within the same period.

The term “heart disease,” is often used interchangeably with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve coronary artery disease that can lead to heart attacks, chest pain (angina), or strokes. Other heart conditions such as those that affect the heart include the valves, or rhythm, and are also forms of heart disease.

The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease, where the arteries that supply blood flow to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked by a gradual build up of fat (cholesterol) within the arterial wall, reducing blood flow to the heart muscle. In many cases that can lead to a heart attack, which may lead to sudden death (35 percent chance), chest pain, shortness of breath, or permanent heart failure. Extensive clinical studies have identified factors that increase the risk of coronary artery disease – they are known as non-modifiable and modifiable risk factors.

Non-modifiable risk factors are:

1- The aging process

2- Male sex, although women catch up after menopause

3- Family history of heart disease increases your risk if a male relative developed heart disease before the age of 55, or female relative developed heart disease before the age of 65

Modifiable risk factors are:

1- Tobacco use almost triples your risk. Nicotine causes your blood vessels to constrict and carbon monoxide can damage the lining to the walls of the arteries

2- High blood pressure can double your risk by hardening arteries and can lead to plaque rupture

3- High fat/cholesterol, especially LDL type leads to increased and unstable plaque formation

4- Diabetes can double your risk, it leads to unhealthy blood vessels

5- Obesity can worsen or contribute to conditions 2, 3 and 4 above

6- Lack of exercise

7- Stress can increase substances in your bloodstream causing constriction of blood vessels, elevation of blood pressure, decrease in your immune system and increase in cortisol levels.

To calculate the risk of having heart disease in the next 10 years go to

Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices:

1- Quit smoking and seek professional help if you can’t on your own

2- Control your blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes

3- Exercise for 30 minutes a day – brisk walking daily will help

4- Eat a diet low in salts, saturated fats and sugars

5- Reduce and manage stress

6- Follow your doctor’s instructions

Remember to love your heart – it’s the only one you have.

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