Heart Attack Risk Factors – What Can You Control?

Coronary heart disease and its ensuing heart attacks have many risk factors identified by extensive research. Some of these factors are controllable, and some are not. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of suffering from a heart attack. Are you at risk? Below, read about five heart attack risk factors you can control.

Diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to significant heart damage. If you have diabetes, make sure you eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and routinely take your medication prescribed by your doctor to control blood sugar levels.

Obesity / Physical inactivity

Get off the couch and move! A sedentary lifestyle lacking in sufficient exercise increases the chance for developing coronary heart disease. Regular exercise helps the heart and can also control obesity, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure, all of which add to your risk for having a heart attack. Studies have shown that high levels of body fat, especially around the waist, lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease. Extra weight increases the heart's workload, so by losing as few as 10 pounds, you can lower your risk. Even just 30 minutes of exercise per day can be beneficial. Consult your doctor to ask about diet and exercise plans to help you reach a healthy weight.

Tobacco use

While stopping smoking is not easy, it is extremely important to your heart's health, because cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. Indeed, smokers develop heart disease at two to four times the rate of nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking increases blood pressure and the blood's tendency to clot and decreases good blood cholesterol. Exposure to other people's tobacco smoke can also increase the risk, even in nonsmokers. More importantly, when smoking is combined with other factors, your chances of having a heart attack go up dramatically.

Psychosocial factors

Learning to control stress and the way you respond to it can be in important contributing factor to developing heart disease. Stress and anger may also influence other factors, because they may cause people to overeat, begin smoking or smoke more than usual, drink alcohol to excess, or turn to illegal drugs, all of which contribute to heart disease. While we all face stress in our daily lives, research shows that meditation, deep breathing exercises, massage, anger management, and other relaxation techniques can help you to better deal with those stresses.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol

High blood pressure overworks your heart, causing it to thicken and become stiffer. When combined with high blood cholesterol, obesity, smoking, or diabetes, the risk of heart attack increases. Animal fats (or saturated fats) found in red meat, dairy and fried foods can all contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Salt is another culprit. Look for healthier options. A low-sodium diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains along with medication can be useful in lowering high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. Also, incorporating foods containing plant sterols (for example, cholesterol-lowering margarine) can also help to lower blood cholesterol.

Unfortunately, heart disease usually exhibits no symptoms before a heart attack occurs; therefore, preventive screening is extremely important. Mobile screening companies offer easy, non-invasive tests to identify your risk of heart disease through determining if you have developed peripheral arterial disease, which leaves you four to six times more likely to die from a heart attack. Mobile screenings, usually held in local gyms, churches, or community centers, are extremely convenient, usually only taking a few minutes out of your busy day, and they can save your life.