Managing 3 risk factors of heart disease and heart attack

risk factors of heart disease and heart attack

Out of our country’s 1.3 billion population, it is reported the nearly 60 million people are suffering from diseases related to the heart. Heat aliments, which were previously confined only to the urban populace, have now crept into the rural areas of the country, and an increasing number of villages and small-town dwellers are being diagnosed with them. Recent trends also suggest that an alarming number of young people are now being attacked by these heart diseases. 

The critical nature of heart disease can be gauged from the fact that the fatality rate is nearly 50% within the very first hour of the heart attack. Thus, prevention is as important as heart disease treatment. Heart health can be influenced by various factors. The factors which are under our control include.

  • Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Excess cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and Tobacco
  • Mental Stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Learn more about how you can control three risk factors for heart disease.

Smoking and your heart

Smoking affects the blood vessels that supply blood different parts of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages blood vessel walls.

Smoking also contributes to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis occurs when narrowing and clogging of the arteries reduce blood supply and the amount of oxygen available throughout the body.

Due to the above reasons, smoking increases the risk of:

  • Heart attack – 2x higher
  • Stroke – 3x higher
  • Angina – 20x higher
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease – 5x higher

What are the benefits of quitting smoking?

According to WHO, the long-term benefits of quitting smoking reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and help in heart disease prevention.

  • In 1 year, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s
  • In 5 years, stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker who quit 5-15 years ago
  • In 10 years, the risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s

Manage your blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is carried by your blood. While your body requires cholesterol to be healthy, a cholesterol imbalance in the blood can cause heart disease.

The body produces most cholesterol naturally, and it is also found in some foods. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol in the blood. Lipoproteins with lower density contain more fats and vice versa. Thus, lipoproteins can be classified as:

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL-C) or bad cholesterol:
    LDL cholesterol ‘bad’ since it is the main source of cholesterol build-up in the arteries. This leads to blockage in the arteries. 
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL-C) or good cholesterol:
    HDL cholesterol is ‘good’ since it helps to prevent cholesterol build-up in the arteries.

Total cholesterol is a reading of good and bad cholesterol. 

Triglycerides are a form of fat in the blood that can also raise heart disease risk. High triglycerides associated with low HDL cholesterol increases the risk even if total cholesterol levels in the blood appear normal. High LDL-cholesterol levels cause the‘ hardening of the arteries’ or atherosclerosis. This is one of the risk factors for heart attack.

What can you do to lower your cholesterol levels?

Generally, lifestyle changes can help to lower cholesterol levels, aiding in heart disease prevention. You can improve your cholesterol by practicing the following habits:

  • Eat heart-healthy foods that are low in saturated fats and avoid food with trans fats 
  • Quit smoking 
  • Drink in moderation
  • Exercise regularly

Manage your blood pressure

Blood pressure is a vital part of how your heart and circulation works.  If it is too high, it needs to be treated.

Your blood pressure naturally fluctuates as it adjusts to your heart’s needs depending on your activity. High blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure remains persistently higher than normal.

  • Optimal blood pressure – A blood pressure reading under 120/80mmHg is considered optimal. 
  • Normal to high blood pressure – Readings over 120/80mmHg and up to 139/89mmHg are in the normal to high normal range.

The medical name for high blood pressure over a long period of time is hypertension, and it is one of the heart disease causes. As you grow older, the chances of having hypertension increases.

It is very important to get your blood pressure checked regularly, and if it is persistently high, it needs to be controlled. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause a heart attack or stroke. It may also affect your kidneys.

How can you control high blood pressure?

Similar steps can be taken to control, lower, and reduce high blood pressure as those taken for lowering cholesterol. Lifestyle changes that can help to control blood pressure are:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink in moderation
  • Reduce caffeine and sodium intake
  • Reduce stress

If lifestyle changes are not enough to bring your risk factors under control, it is advisable to visit a cardiologist. A doctor’s guidance will help to improve your symptoms and risk factors through the provision of appropriate treatment. 

About Author –

Dr. Pramod Kumar K, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospital, Hyderabad
MD (Cardiology), DM, FACC, FESC

best Cardiologist in hyderabad

Dr. Pramod Kumar Kuchulakanti

MD, DM, FACC, FESC, FCSI, Interventional Fellowship (USA), MBA (Hospital Management)
Sr. Consultant Interventional Cardiologist

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