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What Are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

More than likely, you or someone you love will be affected by heart disease. Learn what risk factors predispose you to heart disease, the number one killer in America.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
January 30, 2014
Episode #097

Page 1 of 2

I was watching the Rachael Ray Show recently and heard Rachael and Joy Behar discuss their family history of heart disease. They talked about their struggles to prevent it knowing that it runs in their families. I was also glad to hear that they revealed that heart disease is actually the number one killer of both men and women. Almost 18 million people suffer from it in the U.S., and half of those people end up having a heart attack. It is the cause of one third of all deaths in Americans over the age of 35. 

What Are Your Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

More than likely, you or someone you love will be affected by heart disease, too. Like Rachael, raising the awareness of this disease is our first step to preventing it. We know that some people are more prone towards developing it, but who? How do we know who is more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke? Today, I’ll dissect the major risk factors towards developing heart disease in the hopes of motivating my audience to help prevent this killer.

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What is Heart Disease?

With age, we all develop thickening of our blood vessels. This thickening occurs throughout the body, including in vessels that feed the heart (the coronary arteries) and cause heart attacks, and the ones that feed the brain (the carotid arteries) and cause strokes. These thickenings are termed plaques, and are due to the build-up of cholesterol and the body’s attempts to patch-up the boo-boos caused from damage. Once these plaques thicken over time, they can clog our arteries. This is termed cardiovascular disease and it can affect the heart, the arteries feeding the brain, the legs (also known as peripheral vascular disease), and even the large arteries in the abdomen or chest. Heart disease refers to the thickening that occurs only in the coronary arteries, and is a subset of cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, it accounts for one million deaths per year in the United States alone.

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