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Understanding the Risk Factors for Heart Disease

It’s easy to get caught up with work, your family and friends, and other facets of your life. That’s why it can often come as a complete shock when people learn they have heart disease. According to the CDC, almost half of all Americans bear some risk for heart disease. Are you among that percentage? Here are several controllable risk factors for heart disease that you’ll do well to know. 

Unhealthy Blood Cholesterol Levels 

It’s best to keep your cholesterol intake as low as possible. Your body already produces the substance, but you may consume more than your body can easily handle. When that happens, excess cholesterol starts to line the walls of the arteries. This buildup can block the flow of blood to your heart. 

You may know that there are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is classified as bad because it clogs the arteries, and HDL is considered good because it can actually prevent heart disease. Because you can have high cholesterol and not know it, the best way to determine whether you’re in the clear is to have your physician measure your cholesterol levels through a blood test. Ask about the best supplements for cardiovascular health if you learn you have high cholesterol. 

High Blood Pressure 

You could be all too familiar with the fact that high blood pressure can cause heart disease. Much like high cholesterol, you may have high blood pressure and not know it, making it vital that you keep up with regular visits to your doctor for a checkup. Much like high cholesterol, there are steps you can take to lower your blood pressure, such as make healthy lifestyle changes and ask your doctor about high blood pressure medicine. 

Genetics 

Ask your parents, siblings, and relatives if there’s a history of poor cardiovascular health in your family. If there is, you’re at a higher risk of heart disease, so you want to make doubly sure that you do everything you can to protect your heart health. A family history of heart disease combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices only increases your risk that much more. 

Alcohol Intake 

While there’s nothing wrong with having a beer or two after work, make sure you do not overindulge. For men, it’s best to have no more than two drinks a day, and for women, only one. Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease. 

Race and Ethnicity 

Some ethnic and racial groups in the U.S. are more prone to heart disease than others. Such groups include Alaska Natives, African Americans, American Indians, and white people. While Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans are also likely to have heart disease, they’re more likely to get cancer. 

Age

One of the most important things to know is that anyone can suffer from heart disease at any age. That said, the risk increases with age. 

Lack of Physical Exercise 

Leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to several health complications, including heart disease. There are several types of exercises and several levels of exercise intensity. This means there is likely to be at least one form of exercise that you can engage in regularly to lower your risk of heart disease. Additionally, engaging in regular exercise offers many benefits for your physical health as well as your mental and emotional health. 

No matter what life brings your way, make choices that benefit your cardiovascular health. Now that you have a better idea of your overall level of risk, you can take steps to mitigate that risk.

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