Heart Disease & Heart Failure
Reducing Your Risk for Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease, also called heart disease, is a chronic condition in which the arteries that supply blood to your heart become narrowed or blocked due to a buildup of fatty material, called plaque, within the walls of the arteries. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, 220,000 people with heart attacks will die each year before even reaching the hospital.1 Risk factors for coronary artery disease include:
- Age. As you get older, your risk of coronary artery disease increases
- Gender. Men are at higher risk than women for coronary artery disease
- Menopause. After menopause, women are at higher risk for coronary artery disease
- Family history. If your parents, siblings, or relatives suffer from coronary artery disease, you are at higher risk for the disease
While some risk factors are out of your control, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk for coronary artery disease:
- Stop smoking. Smoking greatly increases your risk for coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. According to Johns Hopkins, cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to get heart disease than nonsmokers. Smoking also doubles a person’s risk for stroke.
- Lower your cholesterol. The build-up of plaque in your arteries can reduce or block blood flow to your heart
- Lower you blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage your coronary arteries and force your heart to work harder, which may increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke
- A heart healthy diet can help reduce your risk for coronary artery disease
- Heart healthy exercises can improve your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and help improve circulation
Taking these steps may reduce your risk for coronary artery disease. If you are experiencing symptoms of coronary artery disease, your primary care physician may refer you to a cardiologist for treatment.