Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors & Preventative Strategies

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  • 0:01 Risk Factors
  • 0:39 Smoking, Drinking, and…
  • 3:15 Diabetes, High Blood…
  • 4:51 Uncontrollable Risk Factors
  • 5:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will describe for you the numerous controllable and uncontrollable risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease as well as important preventative strategies to maximize your health.

Risk Factors

Every day you wake up and go outside, you risk death. Hopefully for most of you I am exaggerating quite a bit, but it's not like I'm completely lying either. The things that you do once a year or on a daily basis influence your fate in one way, shape, or form.

Many of those actions or decisions are considered risk factors for one thing or another, like a broken bone, blindness, or some disease. And since cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it's only fair we zero in on the risk factors that predispose one to this and the preventative strategies you can take to minimize your chances of death from it.

Smoking, Drinking, and Nutrition

Among the many different things that influence heart health, some are more obvious than others.

Smoking is something that is always cited as a major problem related to cardiovascular disease. The toxins in smoke end up damaging the function of your heart and blood vessels. Tobacco use significantly increases the chances of developing something known as atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up within the arterial walls. This causes these vessels, the arteries, to narrow and restrict blood flow. It can occur in many places, but when plaque builds up in the vessels of the heart, known as the coronary arteries, it leads to coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack and death.

Therefore, it's important to either never start smoking or to stop as soon as possible. There are numerous ways you can help yourself quit smoking if you want to. This includes using things like the nicotine patch or gum or by way of seeking the help of a counselor.

Counseling, through rehabilitation programs, is also a method that is used to help individuals with alcoholism. Alcoholism is also an important risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. This is because alcohol leads to oxidative stress upon the heart. This means that the heart is damaged by dangerous little things called free radicals. They are like super small bullets that hit the heart and over time end up causing so much heart damage that it no longer works properly. This is why not drinking in excess or entering a rehabilitation program for alcoholics is highly recommended.

One other reason alcohol is so bad for your heart is because many alcoholics simply don't get enough nutrients as a result of all that alcohol consumption. Eating a balanced and healthy diet is important for the whole body health, not just the heart.

Individuals should avoid eating too much salt or too much in general, especially saturated fat. This is because eating too much fat or too much in general can lead to obesity, which is a body mass index of 30 or more. Both obesity and the ingestion of high amounts of saturated fat are linked to causing what we discussed previously, coronary heart disease and its not-so-pleasant consequence. Therefore, eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is important for heart health not only because they provide a lot of important vitamins and minerals but also because they act as a very healthy substitute for greasy, artery clogging, meat.

Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, & Exercise

Obesity can lead to a condition known as diabetes mellitus, a disease that results in high blood sugar. Whether diabetes occurs due to obesity or another thing is inconsequential in the grand scheme of our discussion. Diabetes has been linked to increasing the chances of coronary heart disease due to the high blood sugar. This is why individuals with this endocrine disorder should seek out appropriate insulin therapy in order to keep their blood sugar under control. If a person has diabetes due to obesity, then exercise is another important strategy to utilize to help prevent, or at the least, slow down the progression of heart disease.

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