While family history and age are contributing factors that cannot be controlled, there are several lifestyle influences that may cause heart disease. Factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, diabetes, smoking, weight, and exercise, can be modified to improve the condition and strength of the heart muscle. In many cases, heart disease can be managed and controlled through lifestyle changes.
Dr Sameer Pagad, Consultant Cardiologist, K J Somaiya Hospital Superspeciality Centre lists out some of the leading causes of heart problems:
Smoking and heart disease risk: Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and damages your artery walls. It makes the blood ‘stickier’, causing blood cells to clump together, slowing blood flow and increasing the chances of blockages that can result in heart attack and stroke. Further, it also causes fatty material called plaque clog the artery wall which can cause Angina. A blood clot in a narrowed artery can cause heart attack.
Cholesterol and heart disease risk: Eating foods high in saturated fats and trans fats results in high quantity of cholesterol in the blood. The fatty material gradually builds up in coronary arteries, making it harder for blood to flow and increases risk of getting Coronary heart disease (CHD).
Blood pressure and heart disease risk: Blood pressure depends on the amount of blood pumped by your heart and how easily the blood can flow through your arteries. In high blood pressure the blood pressure is consistently high. It can overload the heart and coronary arteries, and hasten the clogging of the artery, which can cause heart attack and stroke. If not treated, high blood pressure can weaken the heart because of the constant stress, and may cause ‘heart failure’. Blood pressure depends on family history, eating patterns, alcohol intake, weight and level of physical activity have a strong influence on blood pressure.
Diet: A healthy diet that does not include foods that are high in saturated fat and trans-fat, and cholesterol.
Sedentary lifestyle or inactive lifestyle: Inactivity is one of the biggest contributors to coronary heart diseases. Individuals who get regular aerobic exercise have better cardiovascular fitness, which decreases their overall risk of heart attack.
Obesity: People who have excess body fat, more importantly, at the waist are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other existing risk factors.
Physical inactivity: Could be one of the main reasons for bad heart health: Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart diseases. In fact, it can also lead to other medical conditions that are risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Including regular physical activity can lower one’s chances of heart diseases.
A few important changes in one’s lifestyle can come a long way in bringing that positive change. Thus, a heart-healthy lifestyle is important for preventing heart-related ailments.