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WHAT IS YOUR RISK FOR HEART DISEASE?

Take This Short Test to Find Out. (Answer YES or NO)

Your AGE and Gender
You are a man over 45 years old.
You are a woman over 55 years old, or you have passed menopause or had your ovaries removed.

Your FAMILY HISTORY
You have a close blood relative who had a heart attack before age 55 (if father or brother) or before age 65 (if mother or sister).
You have a close blood relative who had a brain attack (stroke).

Cigarette and Tobacco SMOKE
You smoke, or live or work with people who smoke every day.

Your Total CHOLESTEROL and HDL Cholesterol Levels
Your total cholesterol level is 240 mg/dL or higher.
Your HDL (“good”) cholesterol level is less than 35 mg/dL.
You don’t know your total cholesterol or HDL levels.

Your BLOOD PRESSURE
Your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, or you
have been told your blood pressure is too high.
You don’t know what your blood pressure is.

PHYSICAL INACTIVITY
You get less than a total of 30 minutes of physical activity on at least three days per week.

Excess BODY WEIGHT
You are 20 percent or more overweight.

DIABETES increases your risk if…
You have diabetes or need medicine to control your blood sugar.

Your MEDICAL HISTORY may increase your risk if…
You have coronary artery disease, or you have had a heart attack.
A doctor said you have carotid artery disease, or you have had a stroke.
You have an abnormal heartbeat

If you answered YES to any of these questions, read along for details.

No one can predict whether or not a person will develop hean disease. Most people know someone who seemed the “picture of health” before a heart attack signaled a serious problem. Or perhaps you know someone else who is enjoying old age in spite of poor health habits. The difference is often genetics – something that cannot be changed. But you can take steps to control other heart disease risk factors that can be changed.

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

• Gender: Men are at a higher risk of heart disease than women; however, a woman’s risk becomes equal to a man’s after she experiences menopause. Male hormones are thought to decrease the level of “good” cholesterol in the body while increasing total cholesterol. Female hormones are thought to increase the level of “good” cholesterol while also decreasing total cholesterol.
• Age: Heart disease is more common with advancing age.
• Genetics: Heart disease tends to “run” in families. Individuals who have a family history of heart disease starting at a young age are considered at higher risk than individuals whose family history reveals no heart disease.
• Race: The risk of coronary artery disease is sUghtiy higher among African-American men than among white men. The risk of stroke is almost double for African-American women than it is for white women.

Controllable Risk Factors

• Smoking tobacco increases the risk of sudden cardiac death by two to four times over that of the non-smoker. The risk of stroke and high blood pressure ls-also increased. The good news is when smoking is stopped, the risk of heart attack and stroke returns to the same level of a non-smoker within about five years.

• High blood cholesterol contributes to the development of plaque formations that cause narrowing of the arteries. A certain amount of cholesterol is required for cell maintenance and repair, but the body can produce this amount in the liver. An excessive dietary intake is usually the cause of elevated blood cholesterol levels. However, some individuals are born with a condition that results in a consistently high blood cholesterol level, regardless of diet. Medications are now available to help reduce blood cholesterol that cannot be sufficiently lowered by diet and exercise.

• High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a medical condition in which the amount of pressure required to move blood through the body is consistently too high. The higher pressure means the heart has to work harder to keep blood moving through the body, which eventually causes damage to the blood vessels that carry the blood. Hypertension can usually be managed with a combination of medication. weight loss and exercise. However, high blood pressure has been called “the silent killer” because people may experience complications related to high blood pressure, such as heart attack or stroke, before they realize they have high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to follow-up with your healthcare provider.

• Lack of exercise is a risk factor for coronary artery disease for several reasons. Physical activity carThelp the body use up more cholesterol and thereby reduce the total blood cholesterol level. Lack of exercise means that the heart has to work harder just to keep
blood circulating at a resting rate and is less able to respond to the increased demands caused by emotional stress, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, obesity or infrequent increases in physical activity.

• The relationship of obesity to coronary artery disease is an increased likelihood of high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which are known risk factors. Excess body weight is defined as more than 20 percent over the “ideal” or recommended weight for your height, gender and body type.

• Diabetes is another medical condition associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease. It is caused by an inability of the body to effectively utilize dietary sugar and starches for fuel. The effect on the heart and circulation is thought to be an increase in blood fats from the increased levels of blood sugar.

Contributing Factors

• Emotional stress is a normal part of everyone’s life, but the level of stress and a person’s response to stress are significant in estimating heart risk. One of the harmfiil effects of emotional stress is the body’s release of adrenaline into the bloodstream to prepare the body for the “flight or fight” response. When there is no physical release of the energy, the heart has worked harder for no reason. Although the relationship between emotional stress and heart disease is not as direct as the physical risk factors, it is known that sustained emotional stress can put a strain on the heart, and when combined with known risk factors, contributes to a higher level of risk.

Source: SaintFrancis Heart Center