Heart Disease Risk in North America Remains Unchanged

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Over the last decade there have been many strides made in cardiovascular health, such as improved surgical procedures and even the development of the artificial heart. Unfortunately, despite such advances, the rate of heart disease across the United States has remained stable among adults, according to a new report put together by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control.

 The findings in the report were published in this month’s edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers looked at data for 8,726 participants who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (held from 1988 to 1994) and 15,143 participants in the NHAMES-III study (held from 1999 to 2002).

 Looking at the results, the researchers found that the risk was relatively low over 10 years, at about 10% for the participant cases evaluated. Even so, the risk is still present and the head researcher noted that “Although targeting individual risk factors to reduce (CDC) prevalence is important, the objective should be to reduce overall risk for disease, which will require a more global approach of multifaceted programs targeting several risk factors.”

 So how can you get started when it comes to reducing the risk for this potentially deadly condition? First, you need to address the risk factors that will influence your developing the disease or, if you already have heart disease, what will make it worse.

 There are risk factors that some individuals cannot change, such as having coronary artery disease, experiencing arrhythmias (which are abnormal heart rhythms), heart valve disease, heart failure, or congenital heart disease. These issues can be inherent if you have a family history of heart problems.

 There are other factors, however, that you can have an influence on. Several of these you can actually take hold of and reduce or eliminate from your life. They are as follows:

 — Tobacco smoke: Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke both cause severe damage to the interior walls of your arteries and it can even cause blood clots to form in the heart, along with an entire myriad of other health problems that can lead to cancer and death. Quit the habit now.

 — High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels: Cholesterol deposits in the arteries are a major cause of heart disease, as are high triglyceride levels, which is a type of fat that also causes blockages. Get control of your cholesterol and triglyceride levels by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and getting enough exercise.

 — Poor physical activity: This goes without saying — your heart is a muscle that needs regular aerobic fitness in order to stay strong, healthy, and free of cholesterol and fat. Get moving at least three times a week for 45 minutes each time!

 — Stress: High stress can raise your blood pressure, so make sure you keep it under control by taking up a hobby, yoga, or meditation.

 — High blood pressure: Over time, having high blood pressure will result in damage to your arteries. Take the right steps now to bring your blood pressure down to a normal, healthy level.

 — Alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol will raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels, so keep your consumption to a minimum or cut out the habit altogether.

 — Homocysteine, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen: Having higher levels of these three substances in your blood ups your risk of heart disease and attack. You can reduce your levels of all three by eating a healthy diet and getting the recommended amount of folic acid every day.

 — Obesity: Being overweight poses a threat to your heart health since it results in a high proportion of body fat, which is associated with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, and diabetes. Change your diet and ensure that you get enough aerobic exercise.

 If you are unsure of how to get started, contact your doctor and see if he/she can help you set up a plan to help you battle against the threat of heart disease. Take control of these risk factors and your health today — your heart will thank you for it.

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