Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide – that fact alone makes it a topic that everyone should pay close attention to. It is estimated that more than 17 million people are killed each year due to some form of heart disease, meaning that more than 30% of all deaths can be attributed to this health issue. To give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding health complications and even death due to heart disease, it is wise to learn a little more about the causes, risk factors, and preventative measures that can be taken.
What is Heart Disease?
The term heart disease is actually an umbrella that includes many specific conditions related to cardiovascular health. Included in this class are things like congenital heart disease, atrial fibrillation, cardiomyopathy, and many other conditions. As you would expect, each of these specific conditions has it’s own related risk factors and causes, however there are many commonalities between them. Taking a few general steps toward better heart health should help you prevent against most or all of these conditions.
What are some of the Risk Factors?
Among the risk factors associated with heart disease are some things that are within your control, and some that are not. Naturally, it is advised to do your best to manage the factors that you have control over so that you can limit your overall risk of heart health issues. Following are a few of the major risk factors associated with heart disease.
Age. This is the top risk factor for heart disease, and one that you can’t do anything about. Everyone becomes at a greater risk for heart disease as they age, although those who keep themselves in better physical condition will have a better chance of avoiding problems.
Sex. Another factor that is outside of your control, men are more likely to suffer from heart disease than women.
Diet. One of the major risk factors associated with heart disease that you can control is the diet that you consume. In general, it is believed that people who consume high amounts of fruits and vegetables will have a better chance of avoiding heart disease as compared to someone who eats more saturated fat, trans-fat, and salt. There remains some debate on the exact specifics of a heart-healthy diet, but eating right and maintaining a healthy weight is a positive step.
Smoking. While smoking is often first associated with lung cancer, it can have a negative effect on the heart as well. Consumption of tobacco is related to around 10% of cardiovascular disease cases.
The best thing that most people can do to avoid heart disease is simply to eat healthy, maintain a proper weight, avoid tobacco, and decrease stress, among other steps. While none of these steps can offer assurance that heart disease will not be encountered, they are options that are within the control of each individual. If more people are able to make the right decisions and limit the choices they make which increase the odds of heart disease, this dreaded condition may lose its place as the world’s number one killer.