Age. Growing older increases the risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
Sex. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. The risk for women increases after menopause.
A family history of heart disease increases the risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
Smoking. If you smoke, quit. Substances in tobacco smoke damage the arteries. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers. If you need help quitting, talk to your healthcare provider about strategies that can help.
Unhealthy diet. Diets high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol have been linked to heart disease.
High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause the arteries to become hard and thick. These changes interrupt blood flow to the heart and body.
High cholesterol. Having high cholesterol increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease. Obesity and high blood pressure increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other heart disease risk factors.
Lack of exercise. Being inactive (sedentary lifestyle) is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its risk factors, too.
Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage the arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
Poor dental health. It’s important to brush and floss your teeth and gums often. Also, get regular dental checkups. Unhealthy teeth and gums make it easier for germs to enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. This can cause endocarditis.
The same lifestyle changes used to manage heart disease may also help prevent it. Try these heart-healthy tips:
• Don’t smoke.
• Eat a diet that’s low in salt and saturated fat.
• Exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Reduce and manage stress.
• Control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
• Get good sleep. Adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours daily.
Source: Samuel Abunkunyi, Contributor