10 Cardiac Risk Factors
Understanding the 10 cardiac risk factors is essential to ensuring heart health, but fortunately the American Heart Association (AHA) provides ample information about how to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle. Keeping these ten cardiac risk factors in mind can help you reduce your chances of developing a life threatening, or fatal, cardiac condition. Some risk factors, such as increasing age and heredity, cannot be changed; doing what you can to reduce the major risk factors you can influence is critical to compensate for the factors that cannot be avoided.
- Do Not Smoke: According to the AHA, smoking increases the risk of dying from heart disease by two or three times. This includes second-hand smoke, so abstaining from smoking isn’t the only step to avoiding this cardiac risk factor. Individuals with heart disease, especially, should not smoke.
- Do Not Drink: Although experts debate over the health benefits of an occasional drink, the AHA cautions individuals who over-indulge in alcohol that such consumption is a cardiac risk factor. Alcohol can raise blood pressure, promote heart failure in cardiac patients and contribute to obesity. If you already drink, do so responsibility; the AHA recommends no more than one two oz drink per day of 80-proof spirits, or one twelve fl. oz. of beer.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a growing epidemic in America and the world, and it carries a multitude of negative health effects. One of the top cardiac risk factors is additional weight, especially around the waist, which means that eating healthy and exercising is critical for avoiding this risk factor.
- Monitor Your Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a cardiac risk factor, as higher blood pressure increases the work the heart must to in the body. This causes the heart to grow thicker and stiffer, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure. If you have high blood pressure, especially if you are obese, a smoker or a diabetic, be sure to follow your physician’s instructions for regulating it.
- Combat Diabetes: If you already have diabetes, work closely with your physician to minimize additional cardiac risk factors. If you do not have diabetes, maintain a healthy weight and make sure your doctor monitors your glucose levels regularly.
- Reduce Stress: Although a rather vague condition, suffering from high levels of stress is very much a cardiac risk factor, according to the AHA. If you lead a stressful lifestyle, be sure to take time to unwind and rejuvenate; stressed individuals often indulge in other cardiac risk factors, such as smoking and over-eating.
- Make Time To Exercise: The AHA cautions that a life of physical inactivity is a cardiac risk factor for a variety of reasons. Exercise reduces the risk of obesity and high blood pressure, and endorphins released during physical activity help regulate moods and reduce stress. The more physically active you are, the more benefits against heart disease.
- Respect Family History: Although a history of heart disease in your immediate or extended family does not automatically condemn you to suffering from the disease yourself, it is a serious cardiac risk factor which should not be taken lightly. Do not indulge in activities which increase your risk.
- Take Care of Your Teeth: Every year, more studies and researchers link a connection between dental hygiene and cardiac risk factors. Physicians are starting to caution patients that poor dental care, such as infections of the gums and Gingivitis, can increase the risk of infections in the heart. Talk to your doctor or dentist about avoiding this potential connection.
- Do Not Ignore Your Doctor: Many people are prone to thinking, “It won’t happen to me.” That mentality, in and of itself, is a cardiac risk factor. Even if you have no family history of heart disease, you maintain a healthy weight and do not smoke or drink, you must respect routine check-ups and the importance of being cautious.