Coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease or coronary atherosclerosis) is characterized by cholesterol-filled plaques that block arteries and can cause chest pain (angina) or heart attacks. As with every medical condition, the development of coronary heart disease depends upon the presence of predisposing conditions or behaviors, known as risk factors. The more risk factors that you have, the greater the likelihood that you will end up in a hospital with chest pain or a heart attack. On the other hand, if you recognize these risk factors and reduce them as much as possible, you may never need to see a heart doctor.
Risk Factors: The Usual Suspects
While some basic risk factors are beyond your control – advancing age, a family history of heart disease – others are completely up to you. Most people are aware of the usual suspects leading to coronary heart disease: high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, lack of exercise, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Managing these risk factors can go a long way toward reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.
Can You Change It
High blood pressure
BP 120/80 or less
LDL less than 130
Yes, if Type II
Lose weight with diet and exercise
Lack of exercise
Exercise 30 minutes a day
Mediterranean diet, watch calories, exercise daily
Be aware of your family history
Control the risk factors you can beginning as early as possible—That means starting right now!
The “New” Risk Factors
In the last few years, scientists have extended our understanding of the genesis of heart disease. We now recognize a host of factors and conditions with previously unsuspected links to heart disease, including inflammatory diseases, gum disease, air pollution and even sleep problems. While the link between these emerging risk factors is not as strong as the association between heart disease and high blood pressure, cholesterol or tobacco use, a growing body of evidence supports their relationship to the development of heart disease.