Heart Disease: how to reduce your risk

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Now more than ever, it is a good time to be aware of what you can do to protect your heart health. Knowing the risk factors and warning signs can make the difference in reducing your risk of heart disease. Listen to Prof. Robert Byrne advise what you should do if you are worried about your heart.

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Learn more about modifiable risk factors

  • As high blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, many people may not be aware that their cholesterol level is high.

    Therefore, it is important to check your cholesterol level regularly. If the level is high, it should be lowered to reduce your susceptibility to coronary heart disease. The desirable level of cholesterol depends on your pre-existing risk for coronary heart disease.

    It is recommenced that adults over 40 should have their blood cholesterol checked once every three years or more frequently if their level is high.

  • Hypertension is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke. Hypertension, left untreated over the long term, can lead to damage of the heart and blood vessels leading to stroke or heart attack.

    It is recommended that adults over 40 years should have their blood pressure checked annually or more frequently if they are on blood pressure treatment and their level is high.

  • Diabetes mellitus is a chronic illness. It is often associated with other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, increased cholesterol and obesity.

    The basic aim is to maintain good control over the amount of glucose in your blood. Maintain a healthy weight, a balanced diet and a regular exercise.

  • Smokers have 2 to 3 times the risk of non-smokers for sudden cardiac death.

    Smokers account for 40 per cent of deaths caused by heart disease in patients younger than 65 years.

    Smoking leads to heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, blood vessel disease, cancer and lung disease. Smoking also causes a decrease in HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol).

    Stop smoking - if you have trouble doing this you should try smoking cessation methods.

  • People with excess body fat, especially around the waist, are more prone to developing heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Excess weight increases the strain on the heart, raises blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, in addition to lowering HDL. It is also associated with the development of diabetes mellitus.

    Weight control and maintenance of a healthy weight is possible by decreasing food intake together with increasing physical activity.

  • An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular, moderate physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease if done over a period of time.

    Regular exercise may also lead to an improvement in other cardiovascular risk factors, such as weight loss, lower blood pressure, decreased stress and improved cholesterol levels.

  • Pre-menopausal women seem to be partly protected from coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke by natural oestrogen.

    As a woman ages, the loss of natural oestrogen may contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • If you experience constant stress over a prolonged period, you may be at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, leading to a heart attack.

    Managing and decreasing stress levels is good for the heart and general well-being.