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Heart disease risk factors

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Heart disease often possesses a genetic component, however, a family history of heart disease does not necessarily predispose an individual to the same fate. While it is true that there is little a person can do to modify his genetic predisposition to certain diseases, there are a number of modifiable risk factors that can be altered in order to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. Losing weight, smoking cessation, stress management and eating healthy can lead to a healthier lifestyle, and subsequently lower your risk for heart disease.

Elevated blood lipids are another risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking can reduce levels of total cholesterol, low density lipoproteins, and triglycerides. When diet and exercise are not enough to keep blood lipids within normal limits, pharmacological intervention may be necessary.

Medications known as statins and fibrates are often prescribed to lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and although very effective, they can sometimes cause annoying side effects. The side effects and adverse reactions are often mild and transient, however, they are occasionally so intrusive, that therapy needs to be discontinued.

Niacin, a B vitamin, can also help lower certain blood lipids, and is available without a prescription. Niacin is very effective, but is not tolerated by certain people because it can cause a strong flushing sensation about the chest and facial areas.

Maintaining blood glucose levels within normal limits also reduces the risk for diabetes, a strong risk factor in the development of heart disease. Losing excess weight, following a therapeutic diet, monitoring blood sugar levels as prescribed by the health care provider, and taking prescribed medications can help keep blood sugar levels under control.

High blood glucose levels can also contribute to kidney disease, which is also a strong risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The take away message is simple. Even if a person has a family history of heart disease, there are steps he can take to lower his risk considerably to avoid the future risk of cardiovascular disease.

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