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Cardiac Risk Factors and How to Prevent Coronary Heart Disease

How to Prevent Coronary Heart Disease

Cardiac Risk Factors

Statistics and extensive clinical studies have recognized numerous factors that increase one’s risk for Coronary Heart Disease. Some of them can be changed or treated, and some cannot. The more risk factors one has, the greater their risk of heart attack or stroke.

Controlling as many of these risk factors as possible is the optimum way to keep a healthy heart. Major risk factors have been shown by medical research to considerably increase the risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease. If a client has one or more cardiac risk factors, the coach needs to get a doctor’s release form before the client can begin a heart-healthy exercise program.

Major Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease That Can Be Modified or Treated:

1. Sedentary Lifestyle

Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular exercise plays an important role in preventing heart and cardiovascular disease. Exercise, even at a moderate intensity level, is beneficial if done regularly and long term. More intense activities are associated with more benefits. Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity as well as help to lower blood pressure in some people. Total cholesterol should remain below 200 mg/dl with HDL levels at or above 35 mg/dl. A total cholesterol ratio (HDL + LDL / HDL) should be less than 3.5. A simple blood test done will quickly determine total cholesterol as well as HDL and LDL levels.

2. Obesity and Being Overweight

People who have excess body fat (men greater than 25% and women greater than 32% of total body weight) are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Obesity is unhealthy because excess weight increases the strain on the heart. It’s directly linked with coronary heart disease because it influences blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and makes diabetes more likely to develop.

3. Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (Type II)

Diabetes seriously increases the risk of develop- ing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. It is critical for those with diabetes to monitor and control all other risk factors as much as possible.

4. High blood pressure

High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart to enlarge and weaken over time. It also increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. Blood pressure at or above 140/90 mm/ Hg is too high and 120/80 or less is ideal.

5. High blood cholesterol levels

The risk of coronary heart disease and stroke rises as blood cholesterol levels increase. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and smoking) are present, this risk increases even more. A persons’ cholesterol level is also affected by age, gender, heredity, and diet.

6. Cigarette Smoking

Tobacco smokers’ risk of heart attack is more than twice that of non-smokers. Cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death: smokers have two to four times the risk of nonsmokers. Smokers who have a heart attack are more likely to die and die suddenly (within an hour) than are nonsmokers. Available evidence also indicates that chronic exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke, passive smoking) may increase the risk of heart disease.

7. Stress

According to the results of a study reported in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine, heart patients can significantly lower their chance of having more cardiac problems by making use of stress reduction techniques.

Major Risk Factors of Coronary Heart Disease That Can NOT Be Modified or Treated:

8. Heredity

Children of parents with heart disease development prior to the age of 55 for men and 65 for women are more likely to develop heart disease themselves. African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians, resulting in a higher risk of heart disease.

9. Increasing age

About 85 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are age 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are twice as likely as men are to die from them.

10. Gender

With the changes in our society, heart disease is no longer predominately a man’s disease. In the United States, cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of nearly 503,000 females annually. One out of every five women has some form of cardiovascular disease. About 18,900 females under age 65 die of coronary heart disease each year; about 35 percent of them are under age 55. Men primarily have heart attacks earlier in life.

How You Can Help

Coaching clients at risk for cardiovascular accidents will require some CV programming.

Use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scales to determine effort levels and to maintain a consistent cardiovascular and strength training program (this will lower risk of heart attack or heart failure by training the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems to work more efficiently) that lies within the boundaries of safety for the individual, as agreed upon by their doctor or physician.

There are otherwise no specific considerations for individuals with a heart condition other than keeping their effort level to an acceptable number, agreed upon by all – client, coach, and doctor.

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