What Are The Risk Factors For Heart Disease?
Many heart disease risk factors are actually in your control. Several may not be, but part of chronic disease management and prevention is taking control of what you can. While you can’t control your genetics, you can decide what you are going to eat and how much exercise you are going to get. There are a number of contributing health conditions that need to be managed in order to lower your risk of heart disease.
High cholesterol levels
High cholesterol is one of the health conditions that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. While our bodies produce some cholesterol, most of it comes from the food that we eat. Eating a diet rich in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fats can improve your cholesterol. Some people need medication to lower their cholesterol levels. Regular exercise is part of this chronic disease management plan as it can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
High blood pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the health conditions that contribute to heart disease. It is so common that one-third of Australians have it. High blood pressure affects men more often than women. Lifestyle changes and medication can bring hypertension under your control.
Being overweight or obese is one of the major heart disease risk factors. It puts your heart under more strain because it has to work harder to oxygenate your body. This can cause your heart muscle to become enlarged. If you are concerned about your weight and would like to reduce your heart disease risk, speak to your doctor about a medically supervised weight loss plan.
Your smoking status
Smoking is one of the preventable heart disease risk factors that increases your chance of heart attack, as well as your risk of dying from it. It’s never too late to quit and there are many methods as well as medications that you can try to improve your heart health by quitting. Smoking damages the blood vessels in your heart and brain. But the good news is that quitting can repair the damage very quickly.
Sticking to the recommended alcohol consumption guidelines can reduce your risk of heart disease. A maximum of four standard drinks per day or ten standard drinks per week is the recommended guideline for healthy adults. If you have any other risk factors for heart disease, you may need to drink less.
While convenience foods are tempting, they are high in saturated fat, empty calories and lots of hidden sugar and salt. Changing your diet to remove processed foods and replacing them with more vegetables and whole grains can protect you against heart disease. Reducing the amount of red meat in your diet as well as your intake of sugar is an important part of chronic disease management.
We should all be eating five servings of vegetables a day and most adults do not even eat half of that. Vegetables are an important source of vitamins and fibre, which can help to reduce cholesterol levels. Getting professional help from a dietician can ensure you are eating the right types of food in the right amounts.
Physical activity levels
Current research indicates that 80% of Australians are not getting enough physical activity. In addition to improving blood pressure levels, and cholesterol and reducing your chances of developing diabetes, exercise can help with stress management. It energises you and improves your mental health too.
If you are overweight or living a sedentary lifestyle, exercise may seem like an incredibly difficult routine to start. So, start with small goals like walking. As it gets easier you can increase your level of physical exertion. If you know you don’t have it in you to start an exercise routine on your own, invest in a physiotherapist or personal trainer to get you started as a preventative measure against heart disease.
It may be surprising but your mental health is one of the health conditions that can affect your heart health. Research indicates that people with depression have the same level of risk of developing heart disease as those with high blood pressure and smokers. It is important to manage mental health conditions, both for heart health and for enhanced quality of life. Speak to your general practitioner about your treatment options. Also, consider the roles that following a healthy diet and exercise routine can play in enhancing your mental health as part of a holistic heart disease management program.
To find out more about your personal risk factors for heart disease or to have a health screening, please contact us for an appointment: (02) 9884 9300 .
Risk Factors For Heart Disease
Key Statistics: Risk Factors For Cardiovascular Disease
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Blood pressure and heart disease