How to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke

Risk factors are behavioral patterns or physical characteristics that increase the risk of developing a particular disease in this case, heart disease. On the other hand, there are behaviors and conditions that decrease your risk, known as protective factors. The goal is to reduce your risk of heart disease by minimizing or eliminating the risk factors and by taking advantage of protective factors. Those who already have heart disease can use this same formula to help retard the progress of the disease and, in some cases, even reverse it.

Both risk and protective factors can be divided into two groups: lifestylefactors, that is, factors you can control by changing your behavior, such as modifying your diet, avoiding harmful environmental influences, or taking medication; and innate factors out of your control, such as genetic traits (which can either be protective or cause increased risk) and previous illnesses. While it is necessary for you to become familiar with the latter group, the innate factors, in order to fully understand your heart disease (or risk of heart disease), it is your control over the first group, the lifestyle factors, that allows you to fully participate in your treatment and recovery. It is the intent of this blog to assist you in learning about controllable risk and protective factors and to guide you in responsibly making whatever changes you can to minimize or reverse heart disease or the risk of heart disease.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE AND STROKE? 

The risk factors for heart disease include 

Lifestyle Risk Factors 

• smoking
• high blood cholesterol
• high LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
• low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
• high blood triglycerides (a type of blood fat)
• high blood pressure • diabetes
• high blood homocysteine (an amino acid that increases the blood’s tendency to clot)
• use of oral contraceptives
• being overweight or obese
• physical inactivity
• stress (especially anger and hostility)
• depression
• lack of social support
• poor diet Innate Risk Factors
• family history of heart disease
• personal history of heart disease
• age (the older you are, the higher the risk)
• gender (males and postmenopausal women at higher risk)
• high blood cholesterol
• high LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
• low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
• high blood triglycerides (a type of blood fat)

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