It’s more than just your cholesterol number, although that’s the number that everyone is talking about when we say “Know your Numbers” each year in February. Cholesterol receives a lot of attention as a risk factor for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), one of the most common types of heart disease in today’s healthcare patients. And although we’ve made great strides as healthcare providers to educate patients about lowering their risk, heart disease still remains as the leading cause of death in the United States.
Coronary Artery Disease occurs when vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrow. The vessels become narrow because fats, cholesterol, and calcium build up on the vessel walls. Over time, the build-up thickens and the vessels become narrower, making it difficult for blood to flow to the heart muscle. When blood can’t reach your heart, you could suffer from a heart attack, heart failure, or even death.
It is for those reasons that healthcare providers – like Logansport Memorial Hospital – and national organizations – like the American Heart Association – have made health and wellness education such a priority. If you don’t know what your risk factors are, how can you lower your risk or know if you’re even at risk? Let’s discuss what you need to know.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Risk factors fall into two main categories – non-modifiable and modifiable. There are some things you have to live with (non-modifiable) but there are some things you can change (modifiable). It’s important to know the difference so that you can address what needs to be changed.
Non-modifiable risk factors
Age – risk increases as you get older.
Gender – men have a greater risk of heart attack.
Menopause – for women, risk increases after menopause.
Family history – risk increases if family members have heart disease.