and they are the lucky ones! Ladies, don’t think this is just something for men to worry about (as it has been in the past). Women, as well as men, are more likely to die of heart disease than of any type of cancer.
This is because of our modern lifestyle. We are working longer hours, so we eat fast food, and there’s no time for exercise. To make matters worse, machines are taking the ‘work’ out of work. We are less active and it’s killing us!
So what are the risk factors for heart disease?
Firstly, there are two types of risk factors: those that can be changed, and those that can’t be changed. It’s important to know that you only need to have 3 of these to be at risk. Each extra risk factor that you have increases your chance of having a heart attack substantially.
Risk factors that can’t be changed:
Heredity: You are at greater risk if your parents, grandparents, brothers, or sisters, have heart disease.
Gender: Men are at greater risk than women, though the risk for women increases after menopause.
Age: As you increase in age, so do your chances of having a heart attack. Once you reach 40 you should have regular check-ups.
Risk factors that can be changed:
Smoking: A smoker is twice as likely than a non-smoker to have a heart attack. It not only places extra strain on the heart and lungs but also makes blood cholesterol stickier, making it easier to block arteries.
High Blood Cholesterol: Cholesterol is produced naturally by the body and is essential to our health. The problem comes when we consume too much in our diet.
High Blood Pressure: Just like with high cholesterol there are no early symptoms. The first most people learn they have this is when it’s at a dangerous level.
Physical Inactivity: If you are inactive, you are more likely to have a heart attack. Even a 10 minute walk each day can make all the difference.
Obesity: If you are obese, you are placing your heart under a great deal of strain even at rest.
I might be at risk, what should I do?
If you think you could be at risk, the first thing you should do is visit your doctor. Secondly, you need to modify your lifestyle. Exercise for at least 10 minutes per day (30 minutes is better but anything is better than nothing!). You also need to eat foods that are low in fat. If you smoke you need to give up.
Even if you don’t have many risk factors it’s a good idea to visit your doctor each year. Some risk factors can change within a short period of time and getting on to them early can make all the difference.
About the author:
Ray Kelly is an Exercise Scientist with 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Sign up for his free 7 Day Weight Loss Course at http://www.free-online-health.com
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