Risk increases with age for both men and women.
Smoking, including passive inhalation, is one of the most important factors. Cigarette smoking intensifies the bad impact of high cholesterol levels on heart and blood vessel health. Just weeks after quitting smoking many people show major reductions in several markers of inflammation associated with heart disease risk. Even low levels of smoke from co-workers' cigarettes, or in enclosed public places, can raise your risk of death from heart disease.
Medical conditions such as
(high blood pressure),
high cholesterol levels, and diabetes
(high blood sugar) are
potent risk factors. Diet has a major influence in all these three major
Diets rich in saturated fats and simple sugars are likely to increase cardiovascular risk. Beneficial ingredients that research has consistently shown to reduce the risk include fish, fruits, berries, vegetables, garlic, onions, wine, and cocoa or dark chocolate. Eat more whole grains -- such as oatmeal, brown rice and some breakfast cereals with bran. See diet for an excellent and detailed article on healthy food choices. Focus on vegetables and fresh vegetable juices, omega-3 fatty acids, cold water fish, whole grains, fiber, legumes, a little bit of wine, and nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Nuts have a good range of healthy fatty acids and, in moderation, are a good addition to one's diet. As much as possible eat raw nuts since their fatty acid profile is altered when cooked, heated, or roasted. If men and women added these beneficial ingredients to their daily diets, they might increase their life expectancy by several years. Consume fresh garlic when you can since it dilates blood vessels and can improve circulation.
Eating bacon, sausage, hot dogs and other processed meats raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Eating unprocessed beef, pork or lamb does not appear to raise risks of heart attacks and diabetes as much. It is likely that salt and chemical preservatives may be a major cause of these two health problems associated with eating meat. Eating more fruits and vegetables decreases levels of C reactive protein, an inflammatory marker for vascular disease.
Teenagers who consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks have an increased risk in the future.
Too much salt and too little potassium in your diet may boost your risk for cardiovascular disease and death.
Eating beans, lentils and other legumes will help you cut down on LDL "bad" cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease. CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, April 7, 2014.
Obesity - Being overweight certainly raises the risk. Big bellies in obese kids mean greater heart disease risks, just as they do for heavy grown-ups. The circumference of one's waist is associated more closely with several known risk factors for heart disease than does body mass index (BMI) -- the measure of weight in relation to height.
Physical inactivity is a major cause.
Long term mild to moderate exercise reduces the risk.
However, a sudden surge of physical activity or bout of extreme emotional distress
can precipitate a heart attack in people at risk. When normally inactive people engage in a burst of physical activity, or
when people are emotionally stressed, angry or excited, they are more likely to
myocardial infarction. Walking more is a simple way for people at high risk
for type 2 diabetes to greatly reduce their risk of heart disease.
Stress and anxiety -- A stress-filled life, including work stress, does seem to raise the odds of heart disease and stroke. Emotional stress may be a trigger of otherwise unexplained cases of cardiac arrest. Those with cardiac arrest are likely to have been through a highly stressful event the day before. Men with stressful jobs may already be at risk of early artery disease by their early 30s. In addition to normal life stressors, the physical demands, such as hard labor, a person experiences in the workplace can independently increase their risk as well.
Poor sleep patterns are a cause. Also, people who work a mix of day and night shifts face a greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who work fixed days or nights only. People with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome -- in which airways become blocked periodically during sleep and breathing stops for brief periods -- experience a relatively high number episodes of irregular heart rhythm.
A family history of heart disease. If your dad or mom
have it, your risk is higher.
Young adults who were exposed to adverse experiences as children have greater signs of unhealthy blood vessel function than young people without a traumatic past.
Oral health -
People who don't brush or floss their teeth regularly have an increased risk.
People with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes
because inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, plays a role
in the build up of clogged arteries. People who test positive for bacteria that
cause periodontal disease also have increased thickness of the carotid artery,
which suggests there is a direct relationship between periodontal infection and
A bacteria, called Streptococcus gordonii, contributes to plaque that forms on the surface of teeth. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream through bleeding gums, it can cause problems by masquerading as human proteins. It can produce a molecule on its surface that enables it to mimic the human protein fibrinogen, which is a blood-clotting factor. Perhaps frequent fresh garlic ingestion may reduce the colonization of this bacteria in oral tissue.
Women using oral contraceptives are at an increased risk for heart disease or stroke while taking the pill. However the risk is reduced or disappears after discontinuation.
Taking antidepressant medications can increase the risk of death in those with heart disease. Patients with an upbeat outlook are likely to live longer than those with a negative attitude. American Heart Association, news release, Sept. 10, 2013.
Hostility - Living one's life with an antagonistic attitude increases the risk.
People who put up with the constant roar of aircraft overhead may be at higher risk, BMJ news release, Oct. 8, 2013.
Rev Environ Health. 2014 Feb 19. Particulate air pollution and cardiovascular disease - it is time to take it seriously. Globally, ambient particulate air pollution was the ninth leading cause of premature deaths, and most of the disease attributable to exposure to ambient particulate air pollution is cardiovascular disease. Short-term and long-term exposures to outdoor particulate matter pollution are associated with a range of adverse cardiovascular health effects such as heart rate variability, development of atherosclerosis, myocardial ischemia, myocardial infarction, stroke, and deaths.
Natural supplements and herbs for
heart disease treatment and prevention, alternative methods and home
Before you start any supplement program please make sure you discuss it with your health care provider. First, make sure your are eating healthy foods. Along with smoking cessation and physical activity, diet is one of the crucial factors in heart health. Supplements do not have as strong an influence on heart health as diet and other lifestyle factors. Don't take all of the supplements listed below at one time, but rather begin with one or two and over time add more as you learn how each one works for you.
Fish oils, or eating cold water fish, reduces the risk for heart rhythm disturbances and reduces the risk of heart palpitations, atrial fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmia. Fish oils may reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death probably due to an anti-arrhythmic effect and they also have blood thinning potential. Another option is krill oil. Fish oils can be taken at one to three capsules a day. A diet rich in oily fish, which contains omega 3 fatty acids, may be one of the reasons why middle-aged men in Japan have fewer problems with clogged arteries and heart disease than white men and men of Japanese descent in the United States. Those with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their blood stream have a lower rate of mortality.
Psyllium is a fiber that can reduce cholesterol levels. Use half or one teaspoon of psyllium powder in a glass of water twice daily with food. Flax fiber is another good option, so is glucomannan fiber.
Vitamin C could be helpful, limit dosage to 100 to 500 mg a day.
Vitamin E works better with CoQ10 to reduce inflammation in heart disease. Limit vitamin E to maximum 30 to 200 units a few times a week. Use a natural vitamin E complex rather than synthetic products.
CoQ10 may be helpful in heart disease, especially in combination with vitamin E. I would recommend limiting the dosage of Coenzyme Q10 to 30 mg daily or 50 mg three or four times a week.
B complex vitamins reduce levels of homocysteine. Keep the vitamin B dosages low, perhaps one or two times the RDA. Taking higher amounts may not necessary be a healthier approach.
Curcumin protects rat heart tissue against damage from low oxygen supply, and the protective effect could be attributed to its antioxidant properties. Curcumin is derived from turmeric, which is often used in curries.
Garlic could be an effective treatment for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels for patients with a history or risk of cardiovascular disease, especially as a long term strategy.
Terminalia arjuna, an Indian medicinal plant, has been reported to have beneficial effects in patients with ischemic heart disease in a number of small studies. Arjuna has been tested in angina and could help reduce chest pain.
Magnesium is a mineral that could help some individuals. it is reasonable to encourage diets high in magnesium as a potential means to lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
Danshen used in China for heart conditions.
Aspirin therapy has proven useful in preventing heart attacks, but even very low doses of the drug taken regularly pose a bleeding risk, while moderate or high doses cause stomach ulcer and stroke. However, for most people, a baby aspirin 81 mg three times a week appears to be safe. It is not clear whether taking fish oil capsules or eating more fish reduces the need to take aspirin, or perhaps the dose can be reduced if fish oils supplements are used.
Heart disease symptom
Some of the common symptoms of heart disease include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness or lightheadedness, swelling in legs, and fatigue. An uncommon heart disease symptom is abdominal pain or abdominal pulsation. Some people experience symptoms in the form of anxiety, appetite loss, cough, cyanosis (bluish skin discoloration), dizziness, and fast heart beat. Rare symptoms of heart disease include fever, numbness and tingling, and vertigo. Jaw pain may be a symptom of heart disease in the sense of angina pain. These patients are at an increased risk of developing gallstones.
Heart disease test - which ones are worthwhile?
New and expensive heart disease screening tests are no better at predicting life-threatening heart problems than simple old-fashioned risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol according to Thomas Wang of the Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues who looked at 10 "biomarkers" that try to evaluate risk for heart disease, including C-reactive protein and homocysteine.
A high number of U.S. patients who are given angiograms to check for heart disease turn out not to have a significant problem. Doctors must do better in determining which patients should be subjected to the cost and risks of an angiogram. The test carries a small but real risk — less than 1 percent — of causing a stroke or heart attack, and also entails radiation exposure.
Stress tests aimed at detecting blocked arteries in patients may miss more than half the cases of early heart disease.
Measuring levels of an enzyme called myeloperoxidase in the blood may help predict whether apparently healthy individuals are likely to develop coronary artery problems.
Many doctors prescribe statin drugs, such as Lipitor, Zocor, to reduce cholesterol levels with the thought that they could reduce the risk for heart disease, but there is no proof that these cholesterol-lowering drugs when prescribed to individuals without currently existing heart disease, or even those with mild heart disease, will help them live longer. Until such proof is provided, i.e., that the use of these medications actually help people live longer, I do not see the need to take them.
More than half of heart patients in a July 2014 U.S. study made mistakes taking their medications or misunderstood instructions given to them after being discharged from the hospital.