Heart Attack and stroke happen when your blood vessels or arteries become narrower. Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death for 1 out of every 3 Americans.
When arteries become narrow it can cause chest pain ( known as Angina ) or a heart attack. Heart attack is actually damage to part of the heart muscle, after heart attack heart can’t pump blood through your body, and the person will experience a constant pain in the chest.
When the arteries that carry blood to the brain become narrow, it will result in stroke, A stroke actually results in damage to part of the brain, due to lack of blood that flows to that part of the brain.
Major Risk Factors of Heart Attack and Stroke
Personal factors like being under stress, lifestyle habits like smoking, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The six main risk factors are
- abnormal blood cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- lack of physical activity or exercise
- being overweight or obese
Cardiovascular risk is higher if you suffer from diabetes or if you had a heart attack or stroke in the past. Let’s take a closer look on some of these factors
Abnormal Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like material, thought it is necessary to help the body function, too much cholesterol is bad because it sticks to the walls of the arteries and makes them narrower, and blood cannot flow well through the arteries.
There are two kinds of blood cholesterol.
It is called bad cholesterol because it deposits cholesterol on the walls of your arteries. People with high levels of LDL-cholesterol have a greater chance of having heart disease and stroke.
Often called as good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to the liver, which gets rid of it. This helps to clear out the blood vessels and make them wider. So, a higher HDL-cholesterol reading is good. People who have low levels of HDL-cholesterol have a greater chance of having heart disease and stroke.
High Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure measures how hard your heart has to work to pump the blood through your body. It is measured in millimetres (mm) of mercury (Hg), and is shown by two numbers, like the following – “135 over 85”.
The higher number, 135, is the systolic blood pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The lower number, 85, is the diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests, between beats.
A blood pressure reading of “129 over 84” or less is ideal, while a blood pressure reading of “140 over 90” or higher is high.
Lack of Exercise
Lack of exercise or physical activity can put you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy levels of cholesterol and high blood sugar. High blood sugar can cause diabetes.
Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It also increases your risk of lung cancer and other cancers. Smoking also causes chronic lung diseases, like chronic bronchitis.
Being Overweight or Obese
Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. A person who is more than 20% over his or her desired weight is called obese.
For example, if your height is between 5’3” and 5’5”, your ideal weight is around 60kg. If you actually weigh more than 72 kg, then you are obese.
Stress results in increased blood pressure, heart rate high level of cholesterol, stress takes a toll on your physical body and mental aspects, and eventually leads to the risk of heart disease and stroke.
We will look at the steps to be taken to reduce Heart Attack and Stroke in our next article.