Risk Factors for Heart Disease

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two major factors that increase heart disease risk. These conditions often have no symptoms, so many people don’t know they have them, but the conditions are controllable. Other controllable lifestyle habits that increase risk are physical inactivity; poor diet, including consuming too much salt; smoking; and drinking alcohol. Uncontrollable risk factors are age and family history.ngs.

High Blood Pressure—What Is It?

Blood pressure is the force against artery walls as blood moves through the body. It normally rises and falls throughout the day. But if blood pressure stays high for a long time, it can damage the heart. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to check your pressure routinely. Your doctor does checks during appointments. But ask about ways to check your pressure on your own, such as with an at-home blood pressure monitor or at a local pharmacy.

Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers:
Systolic – top number – the pressure when the heart pumps blood out
Diastolic – bottom number – the pressure in the arteries between beats
Normal blood pressure reading: 120/80mmHg

High Cholesterol—What Is It?

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring fat-like substance in the blood that the body uses to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. Cholesterol is only a problem when we have too much of the “bad” kind and not enough of the “good” kind. Bad cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries that bring blood to the heart and brain. This can narrow the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The two types of cholesterol

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – “Bad” cholesterol – the main source of plaque buildup
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – “Good” cholesterol – keeps LDL from building up

Lifestyle Changes for Better Heart Health

Get active

Exercising for 30 minutes most days of the week is great for your heart and circulatory system.

Eat healthy

Good nutrition from a variety of sources is critical for your health.

Trim your waistline

Too much weight strains your heart and circulatory system and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Don't smoke

If you smoke, talk with your doctor about ways to quit.

Limit alcohol

Regular, heavy alcohol use may cause many health problems, including heart failure, stroke and an irregular heartbeat.

Talk to your doctor today about being heart healthy. Work with your doctor to manage health conditions and get regular preventive screenings.