Understanding the risk factors of cardiovascular disease
When it comes to cardiovascular disease or CVD, there are two types of risk factors – those you can control and those you cannot. Knowing the different risk factors, both controllable and uncontrollable can help you take proper steps to stay healthy and keep problems at bay.
Factors You Can Control
Hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading cause of premature death due to cardiovascular disease. The high pressure overworks and weakens the heart muscles, resulting in cardiovascular problems. Those who have hypertension are also more likely to develop other complications.
Diabetes or high blood sugar increases the risk of cardiovascular problems about 2 to 3 times. The higher the sugar levels, the higher the risk. Unfortunately, diabetes is often diagnosed too late, resulting in serious complications such as strokes, blindness, amputations and CVD.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle is the 4th leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Insufficient physical activity can put you at higher risk for hypertension, diabetes and obesity, all of which are precursors for CVD. Engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 3-4 times a week can lower your risk significantly.
People who are overweight usually also have high blood sugar, high blood pressure and glucose intolerance. All of these conditions put considerable pressure on the arteries and heart muscles, resulting in cardiovascular disease.
Statistics indicate that high cholesterol is responsible for about 1/3rd ischaemic heart disease globally. When your cholesterol level is high, fatty deposits form within the blood vessels. These fatty deposits narrow the diameter of the blood vessels, obstructing the free flow of blood to the heart. This insufficient blood flow weakens and damages the cardiovascular muscles increasing the risk of stroke.
Smoking or ingesting tobacco hardens the arteries and obstructs blood flow to the heart. As much as 10 % of all related problems are related to tobacco use, especially smoking. Some studies have shown that the risk reduces significantly within 2 years of abstaining from tobacco use.
What you eat plays a huge role in leading to cardiovascular disease or protecting you from it. Consuming too much salt, processed foods or saturated fats and not enough vegetables, fruit and fish are detrimental to the health of your heart. A healthy diet consisting mainly of vegetables, fruit and fish reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which in turn reduces the risk of related disease.
Uncontrollable Risk Factors
Age, gender and family history are the three uncontrollable risk factors for CVD. While the factors themselves cannot be controlled, going for regular checkups is necessary so that proper precautionary measures can be put in place.