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Heart Disease

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Heart disease refers to the most common condition that affects the heart, which is coronary artery disease. When blood vessels that feed the heart become blocked, it causes coronary artery disease. People who have coronary artery disease will develop plaque inside the coronary arteries. This plaque will reduce the amount of blood flow to the heart, which will cause damage to the heart muscle. When a person suffers a heart attack, there is permanent damage caused to the heart, killing a portion of the heart. If there is a reduction of blood flow, the heart will begin beating abnormally causing the heart not to pump blood to the body properly, causing sudden cardiac death. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in women and men. Heart disease is the cause for more than thirty-percent of deaths, and women are eight times more likely to die from it than breast cancer.

Risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, cigarette smoking and obesity. Additional factors that contribute to heart disease are a lack of exercise, a diet high in saturated fat and low in fiber, and family history. A risk factor is anything that increases the chances of you getting a disease. Some risk factors are controllable such as your lifestyle choices regarding diet and exercise. Over ninety-percent of the causes of heart disease are within our control. However, some risk factors are not controllable such as, family history and environmental exposure. It is important to be aware of what the risk factors are for any disease, but risk factors are not set in stone. If you have certain risk factors, it does not mean you will automatically get the disease, and if you do not have any of the risk factors, it does not mean you will not get the disease. The best method for prevention of heart disease is to have your doctor perform regular screening tests.

There are several lifestyle choices that I can make in my life to decrease my modifiable risk factors for heart disease. I need to maintain a healthy diet, staying away from foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. Limiting the amount of red meat in my diet is also important. In addition to my diet, I need to make sure that I get enough exercise by performing some type of daily physical activity. Not everyone is able to go to the gym in order to exercise, but things as simple as going for a walk or working in the garden are ways to remain active and get exercise. Weight management through proper diet and exercise is essential in order to avoid obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension, all of which are modifiable risk factors for heart disease. Another lifestyle choice is to not smoke cigarettes and avoid areas where there is cigarette smoke. Many people do not realize that second hand smoke is just as dangerous to your health and your risk for getting heart disease as smoking a cigarette is. An additional and very important lifestyle choice



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