Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
Take a quick self-test for risk factors!
- Smoking: The evidence is strong that nicotine increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Smoking is an especially strong risk factor for disease of the carotid and coronary arteries.
- Diabetes: The high blood-sugar levels caused by diabetes contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and thereby increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- High cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance created by the liver and derived from food. It is deposited in the walls of arteries, where it becomes plaque that causes atherosclerosis, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure is the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Because it may not produce any symptoms, high blood pressure is often called the silent killer.
- Family history of heart attack: Your risk for stroke or heart disease may be higher if you have a family history for cardiovascular diseases.
- Lack of exercise: Swimming, cycling, aerobic exercise, or even walkingplus many other exercise activitiescan help your heart. Exercise programs may be structured and focused, or exercise may simply be incorporated as part of your daily routineall exercise adds up to a healthier heart.
- Obesity: People who are more than 20 pounds overweight or more than 10% over their ideal weight are much more likely to develop diabetes, have severe atherosclerosis, or suffer heart attack or stroke.
- Male sex: In general, men are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than women.
Please email us or call 212.686.2220 to schedule a screening and talk about your specific risk factors.
- If you smoke, quit! Your doctor can help. And if you don't smoke, don't start!
- If you have diabetes, make sure you control your blood sugar as instructed by your doctor.
- Maintain a healthy
diet: cut back on foods high in saturated fat and sodium (salt)
to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Once again, your doctor
can help. Also, the American Heart Association publishes cookbooks that can help you reduce your cardiovascular risk through better diet. For example, try the American Heart Association Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook.
- Exercise. Start at a pace you can handle and then try to work up to a level where you are engaging in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (excercise that raises your heart rate) four times a week.
- If you're overweight, consult your doctor about the best ways to lose weight. Exercise (above) will help, as will diet.
- If you have hypertension (high blood pressure), keep it under control with medication or other treatments prescribed by your doctor.