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Heart Disease Risk Factors and Prevention

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. In order to raise awareness for heart disease, World Heart Day, an event sponsored by the World Heart Federation (WHF), is held every year on the last Sunday of September. In 2008, World Heart Day is September 28th.

Heart disease is a term which covers a wide range of heart conditions. The most common heart condition in the United States is coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack. Prevention is the key to lowering your risk for a heart attack. There are many risk factors for heart disease that can be controlled.

~Blood Cholesterol Levels: Cholesterol is a waxy substance that builds up in the arteries. This can lead to heart disease and other health problems. Cholesterol comes from both the human body and food. Avoiding foods with high levels of saturated and trans fats can help lower your cholesterol. A simple screening can determine your blood cholesterol level and help you and your physician develop a plan.

~High Blood Pressure: When a person has high blood pressure, the pressure of the blood in the arteries is too high and can lead to heart disease or a heart attack. There are usually no symptoms that a person has high blood pressure, so it is a good idea to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Diet and lifestyle changes can usually lower blood pressure, though medication may be needed in some cases.

~Diabetes: When a person has diabetes, sugars build up in the blood. Three out of four people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. Proper monitoring of blood sugar levels and use of medications can help prevent heart disease.

~Tobacco Use: Smoking promotes atherosclerosis and increases the levels of blood clotting factor. Nicotine can also raise a personís blood pressure. Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Once you quit smoking, your risk for heart attack substantially decreases in the first one or two years.

~Diet: A diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease. Ingesting large amounts of salt can raise blood pressure and lead to heart disease. Avoid food that contain saturated and trans fats and eat more fruits and vegetables.

~Physical Activity: Regular physical activity improves a personís chance of avoiding heart disease. Not getting enough exercise can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. The CDC recommends that adults get at least twenty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

~Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use raises a personís blood pressure and increases their risk for heart disease. A few drinks from time to time is no problem. In fact, red wine has been shown to have protective properties for heart disease. Avoid binge drinking and overuse of alcohol.

~Heredity: Genes play a role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other conditions. It is important to note that genetics are not the only factor and behavioral changes can ward off heart disease, even if it runs in the family. If heart disease does run in your family, make sure to tell your physician and maintain regular screenings so that any problems can be caught early.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, available at Amazon, gives proven diet recommendations to help prevent heart disease.

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