Central Kentucky Cardiology

Risk Factors Heart Disease

Learning the risk factors of heart disease is the first step towards lowering your chances of having a heart attack, stroke or similar health condition. Although you may have a genetic predisposition, there are many dietary and lifestyle changes you can implement to not only reduce the risk, but actually reverse the damage of heart disease.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Before we discuss what you can do to promote a healthy heart, let's go over the 4 major risk indicators of cardiovascular disease. We are all well aware of one of the four, yet the other three are just as important, and often go overlooked.

The first indicator is high cholesterol, specifically LDL, which can clog your arteries and lead to a heart event. Interestingly, only 20% of your body's cholesterol comes from your diet...the other 80% is manufactured by your liver. So even if you follow a low cholesterol diet, you might still have high LDL, which is why you need to have your levels checked.

Just as important as cholesterol is triglycerides, or fats, which are directly influenced by what you eat, and are one of the major heart disease risk factors. Triglycerides thicken your blood, increasing the risk of clotting and blockage.

Next there is homocysteine, an abnormal protein that can damage your arteries if not cleared out of your system properly. This risk of heart disease is caused by a lack of B Vitamins (Folic Acid, B6, B12) in your diet. Most of us get an ample supply of B Vitamins, and needn't worry too much about high homocysteine levels. However, vegetarians should be concerned about this condition.

The last risk factors heart disease is C Reactive Protein, known as CRP, which is a measure of inflammation in the blood. Studies show that CRP is a very accurate predictor of future heart problems, and may double your chances of having a stroke. Anti-inflammatories can treat elevated CRP levels.

These are the four blood indicators you need to be concerned with, and all are important risk factors for heart disease. The next time you get a blood test, insist that your doctor also check your triglycerides, homocysteine and CRP levels in addition to your cholesterol...it could save your life!

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