Certain risk factors help along the build up of fatty deposits in the walls of our arteries. These deposits make our arteries narrow and they build up in the arteries around the heart as well. Making some changes in lifestyle and diet can reduce or eliminate these risks.
1.Age. Men over 45 and women over 55 are more likely to have a heart attack than men or women that are younger. Ok, there’s not much we can do about getting older.
2. Smoking tobacco. Smoking damages the interior walls of the arteries including the arteries around your heart. This can allow fat to collect in the arteries even easier and slow flood flow. Smoking also increases the risk of blood clots that can cause a heart attack. I know it’s not easy, but you CAN quit smoking.
3. Diabetes. Diabetes is the inability of your body to produce enough or respond to insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and it allows your body to use glucose by properly adjusting your blood sugar. Diabetes can occur in childhood, but more often, you see it in middle age and among overweight people. Diabetes increases your risk of a heart attack a great deal. You can control your weight in most cases.
4. High Blood pressure. High blood pressure or Hypertension overtime can damage the arteries that feed your heart. This increases the chances of fat building up in the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure is mostly caused by a diet of too much salt and/or being overweight. Cut down on the salt and get in shape and loose weight.
5. High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels. High cholesterol is the main culprit in heart attacks. Cholesterol builds up in the walls of our arteries from the food we eat that’s high in saturated fats. It collects layer upon layer inside the arteries. This will narrow the inner walls of the arteries and slow blood flow to your heart. Not all cholesterol is bad. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is known as the “bad” cholesterol” and is most likely to narrow arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known as the “good” cholesterol”. Your HDL cholesterol helps your body clean up excess cholesterol and lowers your risk of a heart attack. Triglycerides are a type of blood fat that will also collect and build up inside your arteries around your heart. We can start eating food that has zero or less saturated fats.
6. Family history. If your siblings, parents, or grandparents have had heart attacks, you could be at risk of a heart attack as well. Your family may have or had a medical condition that causes unwanted cholesterol build up in the arteries. High blood pressure can also be passed down from your family. There’s not much you can do about your family history but you can work on the other risks and lessen your chances of having a heart attack.
7. A Lack of physical activity. A lack of physical activity contributes to high blood pressure and obesity. Working out decreases your overall risk of heart attack and is very good for your heart. Physical activity also lowers blood pressure.
8. Obesity. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease because it’s associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. It it so important for us to take care of ourselves.
9. Stress. If you respond to stress in certain ways, stress can increase your risk of a heart attack. Many when under stress overeat, and smoke. Too much stress, and anger, can also raise your blood pressure. Everyone has stress but we must learn to handle our stress without being destructive to our bodies.
10. Illegal drug use. Stimulant drugs, like cocaine or amphetamines, can trigger a spasm of your heart muscle and cause a heart attack. It’s not difficult to find a drug addict or a recovering addict who had a heart attack at the age of 35. These drugs beat the tar out of your heart. Many addicts die from a heart attack with no drugs in their system. All the more reason to get off drugs right?
When your time comes, your time comes but being aware of these risk factors is the first key in making changes in your lifestyle to reduce or eliminate your risk for having a heart attack. We only have ONE heart. It’s important to take care of it.