Know the Risk FactorsThe next step in good cardiovascular health is learning about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase a person's chances of developing a condition. In most cases, the more risk factors a person has, the greater his or her chances of developing the disease. When talking about the common types of cardiovascular disease, some risk factors consistently come up. These include:
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol levels, also known as hypercholesterolemia (see Effects of High Cholesterol)
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension (see Effects of High Blood Pressure)
- Diabetes (see Diabetes Complications)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Being overweight or obese (see BMI Chart to find your ideal weight)
- Not exercising
You are obviously not going to be able to change your age, family history, or ethnicity. But you do have control over the rest of these risk factors.
Personal Risk FactorsWhile the first step in preventing cardiovascular disease may be knowing the risk factors for it, the next step is actually knowing whether you have any of these risk factors, especially the ones that you can control, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation.
People with diabetes have high blood glucose (often called blood sugar). People with high blood sugar often have no symptoms, so check your blood sugar regularly. Having diabetes raises your chances of getting cardiovascular disease. If you have diabetes, your doctor will decide if you need medicine, such as pills or insulin shots. Your doctor can also help you make a healthy eating plan (see Diabetic Diet) and exercise plan (see Diabetes and Exercise).
(Click Diabetes Treatment for more information.)