To a lot of people, heart disease may be dismissed as a hereditary condition or something limited to people who are in extremely poor health. While family history and obvious health factors can certainly play a role in determining who is at higher risk, there are other risk factors that are equally important to consider, each of which can be controlled.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified five types of behavior that increase risk factors for heart disease.Use of tobacco is one behavior that puts people at higher risk for heart disease, which a lot of people may not be aware of since smoking is most often identified with respiratory diseases. However, the CDC states on its website that smoking cigarettes promotes atherosclerosis and increases the levels of blood clotting factors. Also, the nicotine in cigarettes raises blood pressure, and the carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen carried in the blood.Another behavior that may not commonly be associated with heart disease is alcohol use. The CDC states that excessive alcohol use can also lead to high blood pressure and increased levels of triglycerides in the blood, which puts stress on the heart.The more recognizable risk factors associated with heart disease are obesity, a poor diet and physical inactivity, all of which require behavior modifications in order to achieve a healthy heart. Obviously, a poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to obesity, but diets high in sodium can also increase blood pressure, and eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol ups the risk for heart disease.
Regular exercise can help lower high cholesterol levels even in a person of normal weight, so being physically active is important for the heart health of everyone. Being overweight is linked to high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Making changes in diet and exercise habits can help lower body fat levels and further reduce the risks of heart disease.
In the United States, heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women, so it is important to be aware of all of the risk factors. Major or minor changes in behavior can have an impact on the heart and lead to healthier, longer life.
Reference URL: http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/behavior.htm