Introduction – Heart Disease

Introduction – Heart Disease

Image courtesy of dream designs at

Image courtesy of dream designs at


Heart attacks can be prevented, yet millions of people in the western world increase their risk of having a heart attack by some things they do every day. Lifestyle can contribute to, or prevent, a heart attack. The first step you can take to reduce your chance for having a heart attack is to stop unhealthy habits that contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. To do this, you must know the risk factors that are promoting your risk of getting it.

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Unchangeable major risk factors include inherited traits, being male, and increasing age. Heart disease tends to run in families with a history of it. Even though the death rate for women is increasing, men have a greater risk for heart attack earlier in life. As we get older, the risk increases. Four out of five people who die of heart attack are age 65 or older.



Major risk factors you can change include cigarette and tobacco smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity.

Smokers have twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers. Smokers who have a heart attack are more likely than nonsmokers to die and to die suddenly. Constant exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk for heart attack.



On the other hand, blood cholesterol levels below 200 milligrams in middle-aged adults seem to indicate a low risk of disease. The risk of a heart attack rises as cholesterol levels rise. This risk is even higher when other risks are present, such as high blood pressure and smoking. A diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol raises blood cholesterol.



High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload. It causes the heart to enlarge and weaken over time. It also raises the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and heart failure. The risk of heart attack triples when high blood pressure is combined with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol level, or diabetes.


Lack of exercise is a major risk factor for heart attack. The heart is a muscle and if it is out of shape, it does not work as well as it should. Routine exercise plays a crucial role in preventing heart and blood vessel disease. Exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes four to six times a week. Seek medical advice before starting any exercise program.



Contributing risk factors for heart attack are diabetes, obesity, and stress. More than 80 percent of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. People who have too much body fat are more likely to develop heart disease even if they have no other risk factors. Being overweight, and more specifically overfat, increases the strain on the heart. It raises blood pressure and blood cholesterol and can lead to diabetes. Prolonged, excessive stress can impact the health of the heart.



If your lifestyle habits include one or more of these risk factors, then you are at risk for a heart attack.

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