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What are preventable risk factors for heart disease?

While age and genetic tendency are two contributing factors that aren't within your control, there are many other risk factors for heart disease that you can control:
  • Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking, as well as secondhand smoke
  • High blood pressure, which causes the heart to work harder and thus enlarge and weaken
  • Low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ("good") cholesterol levels
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes, even if under control
  • Excessive alcohol consumptin
  • Taking birth control pills, especially if you smoke or have other risk factors
  • High stress levels
While having a high risk doesn't mean you're sure to have a heart attack or stroke, the more risks for heart disease you have, the greater your statistical chances. Changes in your food choices and lifestyle, and perhaps weight reduction and medication can lower your risk score.
There are generally more preventable risk factors than non-preventable. Those you can't control are aging, a family history and birth defects that contribute to coronary artery disease.

But if you live a healthy lifestyle - one that includes weight management; eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains; regular exercise; and regular check-ups - then you are well on the road to preventing and combating heart disease.

Not smoking and drinking in moderation are two other preventable factors.

Keeping other risk factors in check is also vital. Maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood-sugar levels, and keep uncontrolled stress at a minimum.

While there are no guarantees, these factors can help you live a much healthier life, improving physical and emotional well-being.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.