Connecting Arrhythmia and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Arrhythmia often leads to heart disease and the risk factors for both are intertwined. Unmodifiable risk factors for heart disease such as age and family history are out of your control. Fortunately, there are several modifiable risk factors you can control including:
- Lowering high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Lowering high blood cholesterol
- Stop smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising and eating a healthy diet
- Minimizing stress
Hypertension means that the pressure inside of the blood vessels or arteries is too high. The heart must pump harder to counteract the pressure and over time, the heart muscle thickens. Since hypertension is a leading risk factor for developing heart disease, blood pressure should be aggressively managed to lower your risk. Heart disease due to uncontrolled hypertension can result in:
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Angina: chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is not receiving an adequate blood supply
- Coronary heart failure (CHF)
- Hypertrophy: thickening of the heart muscle
Over 60% of American adults are either overweight or obese. Being obese not only increases the risk of hypertension, but it can negatively affect cholesterol levels and blood sugar leading to diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends increased physical activity and maintaining a diet low in fat and salt and rich in vegetables, fruits and lean protein can help shed the extra pounds that increase your risk of heart disease. Even losing a few pounds can lead to significant improvements in your cardiovascular health.
Heart disease can be devastating for patients and their loved ones. With so many modifiable risk factors, knowledge is power in reducing your risk. Your healthcare provider should monitor your blood pressure regularly and make recommendations to keep it at an appropriate level. Always consult with your healthcare provider on ways to minimize your overall risk of heart disease.