Heart Disease and Stroke – Are the Risk Factors the Same?

Heart disease is a term compiling a variety of heart related problems. The most common ones are Coronary heart disease (caused by accumulation of plaques in the arteries that supply the myocardium), Ischemic heart disease (when the heart doesn’t receive enough blood), Hypertensive heart disease (caused by high blood pressure), Inflammatory heart disease (heart disease that involves inflammation of the heart muscle), Valvular heart disease (affects the valves of the heart).

Many people suffer from some kind of a heart disease without even realizing it. This is due to the fact that some symptoms appear later in life.

There is a well known collateration between heart disease and stroke. The first reason why are the common risk factors.

– Diabetes increases the blood pressure, helps the development of atherosclerosis and is a significant risk factor for both stroke and heart disease.

– High blood cholesterol – high levels of blood cholesterol is a major factor for stroke and heart disease. It can lead to build up of plaques inside blood vessels which leads to narrowing them. This prevents normal blood flow through your heart and your body putting you at increased risk.

– Overweight and obesity – an unhealthy diet especially one rich in salt and fats, the lack of exercise lead to weight problems and obesity. On their turn they lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of stroke.

– Smoking and alcohol abuse – these are lifestyle connected risk factors common for stroke and heart disease. Smoking as well as exposure to second hand smoke contributes to the build-up of plaque in your arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, reduces the oxygen in your blood, increases your blood pressure and makes your heart to work harder. Smoking also nearly doubles the risk of ischemic stroke. Excessive use of alcohol increases the blood pressure.

– Birth control pills, pregnancy and menopause are unique risk factors for stroke and heart disease to women. Oral contraceptives increase the risk of high blood pressure and blood clots, especially if you smoke already have high blood pressure or a blood clotting problem. Pregnancy may lead to heart disease or stroke if specific conditions occur (such as Pre-eclampsia) or when there is a pre-existing blood vessel malformation. Some women develop diabetes during their pregnancy. Menopause brings a period of life with increased risk of stroke mainly because if the lack of the hormone estrogen that contributes to the healthy cardiovascular system.

Apart from these risk factors there are some more such as age, gender, family history and race. Their influence is the same when it some for heart disease and stroke.