What's Your Risk for Heart Disease?

Heart disease is one of the most dangerous conditions facing Americans today, causing more than 650,000 deaths each year according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means that heart disease is responsible for nearly 27 percent of all American deaths -- and it's also one of the most debilitating diseases faced in this country.

So what is heart disease? It's the term used to describe a number of specific heart conditions, most commonly coronary heart disease, or CHD, which is a major cause of heart attack. Understand the risk factors and causes of heart disease, and then evaluate your risk.

Evaluate Your Health

Take a look at your health--how would you rate it? If you have other health conditions that are known risk factors for heart disease, your score goes way up. Diabetes, high blood pressure (140/90 mmHg or higher) and high cholesterol (total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or higher) all increase the risk of developing heart disease.

Check Your Weight

The heavier you are, the greater your risk of developing heart disease. And you can't just look in the mirror to evaluate your heart disease risk, or even step on the scale. The best measurement is your body mass index, or BMI. BMI is a calculation of your height compared to weight, and signifies if you have a dangerous amount of body fat for your height. Having a BMI of 25 or greater means that you're overweight, and a BMI of 30 and greater means that you're obese -- and at a very high risk of developing heart disease and related health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Take a Look at Lifestyle

Taking a few too many trips through the fast food drive-through each week, or ordering out for pizza more than you know you should? Your diet plays a huge role in your heart disease risk. Eating foods rich in cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat greatly increases your risk of heart disease. That means staying away from greasy fast food, fried and fattening foods, and anything high in salt.

Examine Your Exercise Routine

Every step you take moves you farther away from your heart disease risk, and each hour you sit on the couch allows heart disease to creep in. A sedentary lifestyle, with no or very little regular exercise, is a major indicator of heart disease risk. It also increases the risk of other heart disease risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, diabetes and obesity.

Your Bad Habits

Drinking too much alcohol and using tobacco are also known risk factors for heart disease. Alcohol abuse can boost blood fats and blood pressure--both of which are linked to heart disease. And cigarette smoking can harden the arteries and increase blood pressure. Tobacco is not only known to increase heart disease risk, but also heart attack risk.

Family History

You can't change your family medical history, but it's very important to know about it. Heart disease risk can be inherited, so if you have family members who have had heart disease, your risk automatically goes up. Some of it may be caused by genetics, but it also could be attributed to a common lifestyle (diet, smoking, lack of exercise, etc.).

Add it All Up

If you have these risk factors, you know that your chance of getting heart disease is increased. But the good news is that you can change nearly all of them to get healthy and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is an extremely serious condition that can lead to death and significant disability, so it's very important to be evaluated regularly by your doctor.
To reduce your risk of a serious health complication, treat heart disease and its risk factors to keep your risk under control.

Schedule an appointment with a HealthwoRx™ physician to discover your heart health. Call 954.967.6550.

Web sources:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute
American Heart Association