Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States among both men and women. However, according to The Heart Foundation, by the year 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death around the world.
What are the five leading causes of heart disease?
While there are various precursors to heart disease that we have no control over, the following causes outlined can and should be modified.
1. High Cholesterol
The Centers for Disease Control indicate that people with high cholesterol have nearly twice the risk of heart disease than individuals who have optimal cholesterol levels. Luckily, you can make some lifestyle changes to ensure you never have high cholesterol.
These include limiting your intake of saturated fats (this means avoiding the greasy bacon cheeseburger at the drive-thru) and eating a more health–conscious diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy options, and lean meats. Increasing your intake of fiber is also recommended. Finally, high cholesterol can also be reduced with regular exercise and weight loss.
According to The World Health Organization, around 347 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. The two major forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. While Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, Type 2 diabetes, which often leads to heart disease, can be prevented.
So what can you do about it? First and foremost, eating a healthy diet can prevent the occurrence of diabetes. Furthermore, regular physical activity can also curtail diabetes and ultimately heart disease. Generally, moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise that lasts between 20 and 60 minutes on three to five days a week is recommended for healthy individuals. If you can get into the habit of exercising daily, then do it! Even if weight loss does not occur, the chances for diabetes can be greatly reduced just by exercising regularly.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is defined as systolic blood pressure over 140 mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure over 90 mm Hg. While these numbers may not mean much to you, they should! Hypertension is considered the silent killer because many individuals are not even aware they have the disease. The best way to determine if your blood pressure is within an optimal range is to visit your primary care physical for a basic check-up. Besides hypertension being a cause of heart disease, it can also be a precursor to stroke.
There are some steps that can be taken lower your risk of hypertension and the multitude of issues that come with it. These include engaging in daily exercise, not smoking, and reducing your salt consumption. Furthermore, since having more than three alcoholic beverages a day has been linked to high blood pressure, drinking alcohol should only be saved for special occasions and used in moderation. Finally, if you are overweight, you should hit the gym to reduce your chances of hypertension. Now drop and give me fifty push-ups!
While smoking not only leaves you with bad breath and increased risk for cancer, it is also known to cause heart disease. In fact, people who smoke have a two to four times higher chance of having heart disease. If you’re smoking a cigarette at this exact moment, maybe you’d like to put it out? Your bad habit is not only hurting you and negatively affecting your health, but it is also putting those around you at risk. Your spouse, children, and friends are breathing in what is known as second-hand smoke, which can cause cancer, serious respiratory conditions, and, you guessed it, heart disease!
Everyone has stressful days – you are running late for work, you forget something important you need at the store, or you have just a million things to get done in a matter of hours. However, if these stressful days turn into a stressful life, you may suffer the consequences. Besides stress increasing your risk for heart disease, it can also lead to dizziness, indigestion, difficulty sleeping, forgetfulness, poor memory, anger, depression, compulsive eating, and impulsive actions, among other things.
Therefore, it is obvious that stress must be managed! This can be done in a variety of ways. Exercising, engaging in an enjoyable hobby, and getting enough sleep at night can all reduce stress. Also, next time you’re stressed out and are asked to take on another task, simply say no! Adding more stress to your life is never a good thing!
Heart disease is a serious health issue, but luckily there are ways to curtail it. By taking into consideration the five leading causes of heart disease and modifying your lifestyle accordingly, you may be able to avoid the debilitating disease.