For Baby Boomers
- Born between 1946 and 1964?
- Have a family history of heart disease?
- Are you a smoker?
- Is your diet high in fat?
- Has your exercise become the recliner?
- Are you more than 30 percent over your ideal body weight?
- Is your work environment high in stress?
If you answered yes to two or more of the questions, you might be on a collision course with heart disease. Every 21 seconds, someone in North Carolina dies of heart disease. Often, a simple test can identify a potentially dangerous heart condition or identify risk factors that lead to heart disease. Early detection and treatment can make a big difference in helping you beat the number one killer of Americans today.
Several factors increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Some of these you cannot
control, such as increasing age, your family history, race or gender. But, there are four major risk factors that you can control: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking and physical inactivity.
High Blood Pressure
One in four Americans has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don't even know they have it. This is why high blood pressure is often called the "silent killer." Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure and kidney failure. Because this disease is so serious, early detection and treatment are very important.
High Blood Cholesterol
The higher your blood cholesterol levels, the more likely that fats and cholesterol will build up in your artery walls called atherosclerosis. A simple blood test measures the total amount of cholesterol in your blood by the levels of lipoproteins, or "carriers" of cholesterol. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, tend to stay in the body and build up in the artery walls. Lowering your cholesterol greatly decreases your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable causes of premature death in the U.S. Scientists believe that it promotes heart disease in a variety of ways: by damaging the artery walls and allowing cholesterol to deposit, by reducing HDL (the "good' cholesterol) level, by encouraging blood clots, and even developing atherosclerosis in the abdominal aorta and in the arteries to the legs.
As many as 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are attributed to a lack of regular physical activity. Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people than in those who are more active. In fact, an inactive lifestyle contributes to higher blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lower HDL levels and obesity.