Thinking about your risk of heart disease can be frightening, but watching out for your health now can pay off in a big way. Making simple changes – like what you eat and how active you are – can lower your heart disease risk by as much as 82 percent!
Heart disease is most commonly caused by narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries – the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary heart (or artery) disease, and it’s the main cause of heart attacks in men and women.
Fat, cholesterol, and other substances collect in the walls of your coronary arteries, leading to a buildup of plaque and a condition called atherosclerosis. As the coronary artery narrows, blood flow slows or stops, which causes angina (severe chest pain), shortness of breath, or a heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for all men and women. Men and women of all ages should be concerned about heart disease. The more you understand how your choices impact your risk, the more you’ll be able to reduce your risk of heart disease now and throughout your life.
There are several risk factors for heart disease – and you can control most of them!
Factors you can control:
Factors you cannot control:
If you have high numbers for three or more of the risk factors you can control – cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity (particularly your waist circumference) – you may have metabolic syndrome. A person with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease as someone without metabolic syndrome. Be sure to talk with your doctor or health care provider to learn more.
For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.