Reducing your risk
We can greatly reduce our risk of developing many types of heart disease by changing our behavior. Here are three important steps to take to lower your chances of developing heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders.
Step 1: Take this seriously
There are many factors that contribute to the risk of a heart attack. If you have one or more of these risk factors in your life, you are at a high risk cardiovascular disease. If you do not take these risk factors seriously you are already on the path to serious problems.
To protect yourself, you need to take a serious look at these risk factors and how they are affecting you right now.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR RISK FACTORS?
Some major risk factors of cardiovascular disease are:
- Poor diet
- Being physically inactive
- Being overweight or obese
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol consumption
If you have sufficient risk factors for cardiovascular disease to place you in a high-risk category, this means one of two things. Either your risk of developing heart disease within the next few years is high, or you already have heart disease and don’t know about it.
Unfortunately, a substantial proportion of individuals upon learning that they’re in the “high risk” category turn out to already have significant coronary artery disease – they just don’t know about it because, so far, they are not having symptoms.
The fact a high-risk patient is not having symptoms is no reason to relax, especially since, in 30% of patients with coronary artery disease, the very first symptom is sudden death.
Step 2: Make sure your doctor is taking this seriously
Because some high-risk patients will already have heretofore unknown but significant coronary artery disease, and thus might be at imminent risk for a cardiac event, an evaluation ought to be done to rule out this possibility. This can identify any underlying conditions and enable your doctor or specialist to begin treatment as soon as possible
At the same time, the doctor should also lay out a clear plan for attacking the risk factors that you have control over – including diet, weight loss, smoking cessation, hypertension, and cholesterol.
The doctor should offer you all the resources at his/her disposal to encourage and assist in exercise, weight loss, and quitting smoking and should ride you pretty hard about accomplishing these things.
Step 3: Start your own Plan
While it is important that your doctor take appropriate action to make sure you are not at imminent risk and to guide you to appropriate risk factor modification, the real responsibility rests with you.
Successfully reducing your risk is something that happens only with your dedication, and it’s not easy. Doing what needs to be done often involves fundamental changes in both attitude and lifestyle.
This requires your long term focus. While you may have the support of your doctor, family and friends, ultimately the control rests with you. Day by day you must enforce the decisions that have been made.
That’s not an easy change to make, as for the most part, we may enjoy the aspects of our life that are contributing to our high risk. Against the odds, you need to change your life. If you don’t you will suffer the consequences – possibly decades earlier than is necessary.
Keep the consequences firmly in mind and plan each day to minimise the risk factors you control.