Are you at risk for the leading cause of death? I know I am! In fact, we’re all at risk, but we can do something about it – right now.
If not you, someone you love will be affected by one or more of the leading causes of death in our nation soon. The #1 killer is heart disease, which is preventable, even if you already have risk factors, followed by cancer, stroke, respiratory diseases, accidents and diabetes which are also preventable by taking some action. Protect yourself and the people you love right now by taking some action.
What are the Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease you can’t control?
- Increasing age: Over 83percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. Diabetes is more prevalent as we age because our bodies become more resistant to insulin.
- Male gender: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women, and they have attacks earlier in life.
- Heredity -including Race: Children of parents with heart disease, African Americans (due to greater occurrence of severe high blood pressure) and Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans (due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes) are at higher risk of heart disease.
What can you do right now to reduce the major risk factors you can control?
- Don’t smoke: Smoking and breathing second-hand smoke increase your risk of heart disease2–4 timesthat of nonsmokers and put you at greater risk for developing cancer.
- Reduce high blood cholesterol: As cholesterol rises, so does risk of heart disease. Combined with other risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking, this risk increases even more. Take medications and change your diet as recommended by your doctor.
- Tackle high blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, increasing your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. When combined with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times. Take medications and change your diet as prescribed by your doctor.
- Get physical: Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease, can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, as well as help lower blood pressure in some people. The more vigorous the activity, the greater the benefit.
- Lose weight: Excess body fat, especially at the waist, puts you at greater risk to develop heart disease and stroke even with no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the heart’s work, raises blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. It can also increase the risk of diabetes. By losing even as few as 10pounds, you can lower your heart disease risk.
- Control your diabetes: Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, even when glucose (blood sugar) levels are under control, with increased risks if blood sugar is not well controlled. About 75% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, work with your physician to manage it and control any other risk factors you can.
Other things you can do…
Control stress, change your lifestyle, and discuss your options with your physician. People under stress may overeat, start smoking, or drink too much. Drinking in excess can raise blood pressure, cause heart failure and lead to stroke, contribute to high triglycerides, cancer and other diseases, and produce irregular heartbeats. It can also contribute to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. Get creative, try yoga or other exercise to keep you relaxed and help you sleep better. Talk to your doctor about a Mediterranean diet or adding cinnamon to your diet. These are great, flavorful ways to help you get the nutrients you need, enjoy the foods you love and combat diabetes and heart disease and even protect you against some forms of cancer.