Heart Disease: Three Things to Watch
Heart disease is a general term used to describe a number of issues affecting the heart. Typically, these issues are a result of the plaque build-up on artery walls. When plaque builds up, it causes the artery walls to narrow, making it harder for blood to flow through. When evaluating your own risk for heart disease, keep these three things in mind:
High blood pressure
Blood pressure that is 140/90 or more is considered high. If untreated, high blood pressure damages and scars your arteries, increasing your risk for a heart attack. Narrowed artery walls can also increase your blood pressure.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from your body and food. Your body makes all the cholesterol you need and circulates it through your blood; however, many of us also eat diets high in cholesterol from animal fats. This extra cholesterol is the plaque that sticks to your artery walls, creating build-up.
The combination of factors that multiply or increase a person’s risk for heart disease is called metabolic syndrome. You are considered to have metabolic syndrome when you have three or more of these:
- Belly fat: A waist of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men
- Elevated triglyceride level of 150 or more
- Decreased HDL cholesterol
- Blood pressure greater than 130/85
- Fasting glucose (blood sugar) of 100 or more