Underlying and unrecognized risk factors for heart disease

The increase in cases of heart attacks and heart disease around the world is becoming a major concern for health care providers. While we cannot ignore the importance of preventive measures for heart disease, lifestyle changes must also be made to prevent a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis, which is the deposition of lipid plaques on arterial walls, is responsible for most cases of coronary heart disease (CHD). It begins to occur as early as adolescence and tends to progress with increasing age.

Multiple risk factors act together and can increase the risk of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries and other arterial beds. Increasing age and male sex are important risk factors. In women, the risk of heart disease increases after menopause. People should be aware of having a family history of coronary heart disease, it is a very important risk factor for future heart disease.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for both heart disease and stroke. A reasonable goal is to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol levels) is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is even more important in individuals with premature coronary disease (men <55 years, women <65 years).

Uncontrolled sugar levels (Diabetes Mellitus) are also associated with atherosclerotic coronary disease. People with diabetes also have a higher incidence of risk factors such as dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity. People with pre-existing chronic kidney disease are at increased risk of coronary heart disease.

Lifestyle significantly affects health and coronary heart disease. Smoking is a very important risk factor for heart disease. Increased consumption of red meat, saturated fat, and low-fiber foods increases the risks of heart disease. A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight/obese increase the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

A heart attack can happen at any age. One can start living a healthy life at a young age. If a person has multiple risk factors or is over the age of 40, they should see their doctor and address their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Prevention of heart attacks is essential. You can start with an assessment of your risk factors and then develop a plan that you can follow to keep your risk of heart attack low.

Drug abuse is becoming a major health hazard. The use of recreational drugs (cannabis or marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy (MDMA)) increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks. The risk of having a stroke is six times higher in drug users than in non-users. And, in many cases, when a stroke occurs, it happens within hours of taking the drug.

In short, for good heart health, emphasize simple things like not smoking, being physically active, eating a healthy diet, losing weight or maintaining a normal weight, normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, normal blood sugar levels, etc. .

The author is a Senior Interventional Cardiologist, MD, DM Cardiology (PGIMER, Chandigarh) and Assistant Professor at the GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research. Views are personal.

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