Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States. The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors we can control and that will make a positive impact on our lives. However, there are also several risk factors that we cannot control, but should still be aware of.
Inherent Risk Factors
Risk factors that you cannot control are related to an individuals age, sex, race and family history. The majority of individuals 65 or older who die typically are a result of cardiovascular disease. Earlier in life, men are at a higher risk than woman, but that changes as we age, when woman are at higher risk than men. African-Americans have a higher blood pressure risk than Caucasians and are at a higher risk of heart disease. Children whose parents have cardiovascular disease have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease themselves. If you fall under any of these categories, it is even more important for you to manage the risk factors that CAN be changed.
Risk Factors We Can Control
There are many risk factors that we can make a positive impact on, including:
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco use
- Lack of physical activity
- Type II Diabetes
- Unhealthy diet
- Alcohol/Drug use
Physical activity is extremely important and can impact a lot of the risk factors mentioned above. Regular moderate to vigorous physical activity can help prevent heart and blood vessel disease. Physical activity can help control cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and lower blood pressure. It’s also an excellent outlet for releasing stress.
In addition to physical activity, following a healthy diet is another great approach to fighting cardiovascular disease. The types and amounts of food you eat can affect cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and body weight. Nutrient rich foods that have vitamins, minerals, fiber and are low in calories are best. So stock up on fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high fiber, fish, lean protein and fat-free foods. Eliminate saturated and trans fats as they can raise your LDL (the bad) cholesterol. High LDL is associated with build up of fatty deposits in your artery walls, which can increase your risk of heart attack and/or stroke. HDL is your good cholesterol. Being overweight, smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle can all lower HDL.
Following a healthy lifestyle can help you and your family prevent or control cardiovascular disease. Start making better choices today for a healthier lifestyle.
Note: Please consult with your doctor before starting any new nutrition or exercise program.