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Knowing the facts can improve, even save your life

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Health & Wellness

Published on January 30, 2019 with No Comments

The following recommendations to proactively promote a healthier heart – and ultimately, a better quality of life.

Know the Facts

Some conditions and lifestyle factors can put you at a higher risk for developing heart disease and having a heart attack. Genetics can also have a significant impact. For those who already know they have heart disease, the need to be proactive with health and lifestyle decisions is especially great.

These conditions increase the risk of a heart attack:

Elevated cholesterol levels -There are “good” and “bad” forms of cholesterol. The body needs cholesterol, but when there is too much, the excess is deposited in arteries. This can lead to artery narrowing and heart disease. Different tests can determine your risk level and help you manage cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure -A person can have high blood pressure with no symptoms at all. When the pressure of blood in the arteries is too high, it can cause damage and be a major risk factor for heart disease. Lowering blood pressure can dramatically lower the risk of heart attack.

Diabetes mellitus -With diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. Sugars build up in the blood, which is very dangerous to circulation.

Other factors that can increase your risk for a heart attack include:

Smoking -Tobacco smoking promotes atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque inside of blood vessels) and increases the levels of blood clotting factors, such as fibrinogen. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that blood can carry.

Eating habits -Dietary patterns linked to heart disease and related conditions include diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol (which raise blood cholesterol levels and promote atherosclerosis). High salt or sodium in the diet causes raised blood pressure levels as well. Aim for less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day.

A sedentary life -Physical inactivity is related to the development of heart disease and can impact other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL (good) cholesterol, and diabetes.

Excess weight -Obesity is linked to higher LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and to lower HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Extra weight puts a tremendous burden on the heart to pump blood through more tissue than it can handle.

Alcohol use -Heavy drinking leads to higher blood pressure and increases blood levels of triglycerides, which contribute to atherosclerosis.

For more information, call 800-932-8677 or visit www.tops.org.

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