Heart disease is a term used to describe a range of diseases that affect your heart, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart arrhythmias, endocarditis and congenital heart defects. 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. If you know your risk factors, you can take steps to reduce your chances of having a heart attack. Are you at risk for heart disease?
Number of Cigarettes Smoked Daily
People who smoke are more likely to die from heart disease. When you stop smoking, your risk rapidly drops. Over time, your risk becomes the same as a non-smoker.
Cholesterol level - HDL and LDL
Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in your blood. It can build up in your arteries and cause them to narrow. Research has shown that having low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) puts you at higher risk for heart disease.
High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than normal, damaging the smooth inner lining of your blood vessels. You’re more prone to high blood pressure if you’re 20 pounds over your healthy weight, have a family history of high blood pressure, take certain types of oral contraceptives or have reached menopause.
Number of Minutes of Daily Exercise
If you’re physically inactive you’re 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’re at a higher risk for heart disease. By watching your diet and exercising, you can loose the extra weight – and keep it off.
Blood Sugar Levels
If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce or respond properly to insulin–a substance it needs to use 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.