Major risk factors for heart disease – how do you get heart disease?

Heart disease risk factorsRisk factors are those things you do or conditions you may be suffering from that increase your chances of getting a particular disease.

What causes heart disease?

High blood cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is produced by the liver and is used for various things in the body.The liver produces cholesterol which is then carried as LDH (low density lipoprotein) or HDL (high density lipoprotein). HDL actually removes cholesterol from the blood so that it doesn’t build up on the walls of your arteries. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood it is laid down on the inner walls of the arteries causing narrowing and eventually blockage. This cuts off blood supply to the affected part of the body, e.g.in the coronary arteries of the heart this would lead to a heart attack.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure is a condition in which the force of the blood in the arteries is too high. This increases the risk for heart disease.

Diabetes

This is a condition in which the body doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin that it does produce because the cells have lost the ability to respond to it.

(Insulin is an important hormone for processing sugars in the body.) When this happens, the processing of fats and protein in the body are also affected. About 3/4 of diabetics die from heart disease or disease of the blood vessels.

Smoking

One of the worst things you can do to yourself in terms of trying to stay healthy is to smoke. If you smoke you are 2-6 times more likely to develop heart disease than someone who doesn’t. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher the risk.

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