The term "heart disease" is often used interchangeably with "cardiovascular disease." Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke.
Heart disease is largely preventable. It is important to know the risk factors and what you can do to reduce your chances of having a heart attack.
Number of cigarettes smoked daily Individuals who smoke have a higher risk of death from heart disease. When you stop smoking, your risk rapidly drops and over time it will decline to the level of a non-smoker.
Cholesterol level - HDL and LDL Cholesterol is one type of fat found in the body and circulating in the blood. It can build up in the arteries and cause narrowing to occur. Research has shown that having low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) puts you at higher risk for heart disease.
Blood pressure High blood pressure makes the heart work harder than normal, causing damage to the smooth inner lining of the blood vessels. You are more prone to high blood pressure if you are 20 pounds over your healthy weight, have a family history of high blood pressure, take certain types of oral contraceptive or have reached menopause.
Number of minutes of daily exercise If you are physically inactive you are twice as likely to develop heart disease. You don't have to be an athlete, but 30-60 minutes of daily activity can make a difference.
Height, weight and waist circumference If you have too much fat, especially if a lot of fat is located in your waist area, you are at higher risk for heart disease. A high-risk waist circumference is defined as 35 inches or more for women, and 40 inches or more for men. Long-term weight loss is achieved with diet and exercise.
Blood sugar levels Diabetes is a condition in which your body is unable to produce or respond properly to insulin. Your body needs insulin to utilize the sugar in your diet. People with diabetes have a three to seven times higher risk of heart disease.
Talk to your health care provider about additional ways you can make your heart healthy and keep it that way.