Keep Your Heart and Cardiovascular System Healthy

May 7, 2012 · Posted in Risk Factors 

heartMiddle aged folks, watch your risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These include: high blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar (diabetes).

According to Heartwire, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that having any of these risk factors increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease later in life.  The more risk factors one has, the greater the increase in risk.

Across the whole meta-analysis, participants with no risk factors at age 55 (total cholesterol level: <180 mg/dL;
blood pressure: <120 mm Hg systolic and 80 mm Hg diastolic; nonsmoking; nondiabetic) had drastically better odds
of avoiding death from cardiovascular disease through the age of 80 than participants with two or more major risk
factors (4.7% vs 29.6% among men and 6.4% vs 20.5% among women).

People with an optimal risk-factor profile also had lower lifetime risks of fatal coronary heart disease or nonfatal MI (Editor’s Note: myocardial infarction, or heart attack) (3.6% vs 37.5% among men, <1% vs 18.3% among women) and fatal or nonfatal stroke (2.3% vs 8.3% among men,
5.3% vs 10.7% among women), compared with those with two or more risk factors.

What this article does not mention is that depression is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, and should be treated just as aggressively and persistently as the other cardiovascular risk factors.

Also as we’ve written before in the BNN, exercise is one element of a healthy life style that can positively affect all of these risk factors. ┬áStarting a healthy diet and exercise regimen in middle age will have long-term positive effects and reduce risks later in life.

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