The leading cause of death in the United States is Heart Disease and has been the leading cause for decades. Your heart pumps every day and every minute, so protecting it from disease is very important.

Causes

Cardiovascular disease is the narrowing, blocking or hardening of the blood vessels caused by the build up of plaque.  Plaque is made of cholesterol and other deposits in the artery.

blocked-vessel-picture-cdc
Arteriosclerosis. Image via CDC

Over time, the blockage weakens the muscles of the heart.  Your heart has to pump harder and work more to move the same amount of blood through these blocked vessels.  Imagine drinking a milkshake and there is a chunk stuck in the straw, think of how much work you go through to get that piece moving through the straw.  Your heart is doing the exact same thing with a blood vessel, but unlike the milkshake, the pressure is never relieved.

Risk Factors

There are numerous risk factors for heart disease.  Your family history, current medical conditions, and personal behaviors all play a part in increasing your risk.

Your everyday actions are often the most detrimental.  Almost half of all Americans have at least one of the key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or use tobacco products.

  1. Unhealthy Diet

    • Eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol are linked to heart disease. Foods high in salt (sodium) also increase blood pressure, which on a blocked artery, only aggravated the situation further.
    • What you can do: Eat fruit and vegetables, the dark leafy greens are the best for your heart. Cut out excess sodium and sugar from your diet.
  2. Physical Inactivity

    • Regular exercise decreases your risk for heart disease and other preventable diseases like obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
    • What you can do: Complete 5 days of 30 minutes exercising, like brisk walking or bicycling every week.
  3. Obesity

    • 65% of adults are obese, and the numbers have been steadily increasing since the 1970s.
    • Excess weight acts like a domino in your health. Once one happens another disease often will fall along with it.  Obesity increases the likelihood of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
    • What you can do: get physically active and change eating habits. Talk to one of our providers today to discuss a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.
  4. High Alcohol Consumption

    • Drinking too much alcohol increase blood pressure and increase your cholesterol
    • What you can do: Limit drinking. The CDC recommends that men have no more than 2 drinks a day.  And women have no more than 1 drink a day.
  5. Tobacco Use

    • Tabacco use on its own, weakens the heart and its blood vessels; add that to a poor diet and your risks dramatically increase. Tobacco use also raises your blood pressure.
    • What you can do: Begin a quit smoking plan. Contact one of our providers to discuss your quit smoking options.

Take this quick Quiz to determine your cardiovascular health.

If you experience any chest pain, shortness of breath and fainting seek emergency help ASAP.

Featured Image via CDC