The Causes Of Heart Disease
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease or cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that encompasses all possible blood vessel and heart related problems. While most people use the term ‘cardiovascular disease’ interchangeably for atherosclerosis which is a narrowing and thickening of the walls of the arteries that lead up to the heart, the term also refers to valvular heart disease, coronary artery disease, rheumatic heart disease and stroke. Statistics revealed by the World Health Organization confirm that cardiovascular disease is the cause of about 12 million deaths worldwide every year. Moreover, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults. Keeping these shocking statistics in mind, it is imperative for us to be well aware of the causes of heart disease. Adequate information about the causes of heart disease will make it easier to avoid the risk factors that lead to this potentially fatal health condition.
Causes of Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease can be caused by several different risk factors. Some risk factors have been proved to directly increase the risk of heart disease, while others are believed to contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Risk Factor # 1- Gender
A leading cause of heart disease is gender. Men are at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease than women. However, the risk of heart attack increases after women hit menopause.
Risk Factor # 2- Age
As we get older our heart slowly and gradually loses its efficiency and strength. After the age of 65 both women and men are at an equal risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease or heart attacks.
Risk Factor # 3- Lack of Physical Activity
There’s more to exercise than just losing weight. Regular physical activity not only burns calories, but it also plays an instrumental role in controlling cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and diabetes. Moreover, exercising also strengthens the heart muscle and helps to keep the arteries in a healthy, functioning condition.
Risk Factor # 4- Heredity
Amongst the causes of heart disease includes family history. Having a family history of cardiovascular disease increases the risk of falling prey to a heart problem. Check your family history details to find out whether any of your family members had heart problems before the age of 55. If yes, then extra caution must be exercised on your part to prevent the development of a cardiovascular problem.
Risk Factor # 5- Smoking
Lung cancer is not the only effect of cigarette and tobacco smoking. Smoking leads to high blood pressure, a faster heart rate, thickening and narrowing of the arteries, and creates irregularities in the normal timing of the heart beats. All of these adverse effects force the heart to work a whole lot harder, weakening the heart muscle and increasing the risk of heart disease and peripheral vascular disease.
Risk Factor # 6- High Cholesterol Levels
There are two types of cholesterol in the body, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Eating foods that contain saturated fats lead to a buildup of the bad cholesterol, LDL, in the blood. LDL cholesterol sets the process of atherosclerosis going, which is when the arteries supplying blood directly to the heart become narrow due to plaque deposits. This narrowing of the arteries tremendously increases the risk of heart attack.
Risk Factor # 7- High Blood pressure
High blood pressure or hypertension is a health condition that can be a consequence of other problems such as smoking or obesity, or it can simply exist as an independent health issue. Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.
Risk Factor # 8- Obesity and Overweight
A BMI (body mass index) of over 25 is an indication that the individual is overweight while a BMI of 30 signals obesity. Being overweight or obese puts the individual at an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and coronary heart disease.
Risk Factor # 9- Diabetes
According to the American Health Association, about 65% of diabetic patients die from some form of cardiovascular disease. Individuals with type 2 diabetes (adult onset diabetes) are at a greater risk of suffering from heart disease.
Other Contributing Risk Factors
Other risk factors are believed to play a role in increasing the risk of heart disease. These contributing risk factors include stress and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.