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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Do You Love Your Heart – Risk Factors That Cannot be Controlled (Part 2 in a 4 Part Series)

What are the main factors that you cannot control which determine your base level for heart disease risk? Below I’ll discuss these and why they are risk factors.

Gender is the first risk factor that we cannot control. Men and women’s plaque distributes differently throughout our bodies. Women’s plaque tends to distribute evenly which can lead to angio tests being misinterpreted as normal. Half the men and almost 2/3 of women who die of heart disease have no previous symptoms. In addition, working women’s stress hormone levels rise in the morning and stay elevated until bedtime which puts them at higher risk.

Ethnicity is the next factor. Heart disease does not discriminate among ethnic groups, being the leading cause of death in most of them. African Americans develop high blood pressure earlier in life and tend to have much higher average blood pressure. This results in this group having a greater rate of stroke and heart disease related deaths.

Genetics, in my opinion, is one of the largest of the risk factors that are uncontrolled by us. Family history of high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure would indicate you should be more aware of what symptoms to watch for. Educating yourself is the first step towards prevention as early awareness could mean the difference between life and death. For many people, death is the first symptom of a heart attack so it’s important to raise your awareness.

Age is another factor we cannot control. We get older every year whether we like it or not. Men 45 and women 55 years and older are more at risk of a heart attack than younger people. High concentrations of cholesterol during the teenage years can lead to problems that do not manifest themselves until adulthood. Our prevalence to eat prepackaged, highly processed food from a young age into adulthood only adds to the risk.

Diabetes is the last factor that is listed as a uncontrollable factor. I would argue this point that unless it’s present in family history it’s a lesser risk in regards to being controllable since many diabetics control their diabetic health through diet. However, I see it being listed because this illness increases heart disease and stroke so it’s a risk factor in the sense that if you’ve been diagnosed with it, your risk of heart disease and stroke increases. Diabetes is the #7 cause of death in the US according to cdc.gov stats for 2009. So it’s in the top 10 leading causes of death.

It really comes down to being aware of all these factors and how they affect your life. You should see a doctor at least once a year for a general wellness check and maybe more frequently as he/she directs if your family has a history of any of these illnesses. Prevention is really the best medicine and that begins with you educating yourself and being in tune with your body. Click here for a list of symptoms to be aware of. It could save you or a loved one’s life.

I hope you’ve found this information helpful. I’ve googled much of this information to verify it but feel free to do more research. I’m a firm believer in the more you know and the more opposing opinions you get, the more informed you are for yourself.


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Kathie Hitt


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor should this information take the place of regularly scheduled wellness visits with your physician. Self diagnosis is not the way to responsibly take care of your health. Before changing what you do, make sure to consult with your doctor as this blog and it’s education will not be held accountable for your own personal actions. This blog is meant for education only and to raise awareness of heart disease and the many factors related to it in hopes that increased education will help save more lives. Only through education do we grow stronger and more knowledgeable about life.