RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

RISK FACTORS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Researchers have identified a variety of factors associated with an increased risk of developing CVD. They are grouped into two categories: major risk factors and contributing risk

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) A collective TERMS term for various diseases of the heart and blood vessels.

Platelets Cell fragments in the blood that are necessary for the formation of blood clots.

Hypertension Sustained abnormally high blood pressure.

Atherosclerosis A form of CVD in which the inner layers of artery walls are made thick and irregular by plaque deposits; arteries become narrowed, and blood supply is reduced. lipoproteins Protein-and-lipid substances in the blood that carry fats and cholesterol; classified according to size, density, and chemical composition. low-density lipoprotein (LDL) A lipoprotein containing a moderate amount of protein and a large amount of cholesterol; “bad” cholesterol. factors. Some risk factors are linked to controllable aspects of lifestyle and can therefore be changed. Others are beyond your control. (You can evaluate your personal CVD risk factors in Part I of Lab 11.1.)

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Major Risk Factors That Can Be Changed

The American Heart Association (AHA) has identified five major risk factors for CVD that can be changed: high blood pressure, tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and diabetes. Most Americans, including young adults, have major risk factors for CVD.

Tobacco Use Nearly 1 in 5 deaths is attributable to smoking. In 2011, an estimated 44 million Americans were tobacco users, including 14.3 million college students. Smoking remains one of the most preventable causes of CVD in the United States. People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day have twice the risk of heart attack as nonsmokers; smoking two or more packs a day triples the risk. When smokers have heart attacks, they are two to three times more likely than nonsmokers to die from them. Cigarette smoking also doubles the risk of stroke.

Smoking harms the cardiovascular system in several ways:

• It damages the lining of arteries.

• It reduces the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.

• It raises the levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

• Nicotine increases blood pressure and heart rate.

• The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke displaces oxygen in the blood, reducing the oxygen available to the body.

• Smoking causes platelets to stick together in the bloodstream, leading to clotting.

• Smoking speeds the development of fatty deposits in the arteries.

You don’t have to smoke to be affected. The risk of developing heart disease increases up to 30% among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) also known as “secondhand smoke.” Researchers estimate that about

46,000 nonsmokers die from heart disease each year as a result of exposure to ETS.

Answers (Test Your Knowledge)

1. False. Cardiovascular disease kills far more. Among American women, nearly 1 in 3 deaths is due to cardiovascular disease and about 1 in 34 is due to breast cancer.

2. c., 6 years. Both aerobic exercise and strength training significantly improve cardiovascular health.

3. All three. Whole grains (whole wheat, oatmeal, rye, barley, and brown rice), foods with omega-3 fatty acids (salmon), and foods high in potassium and low in sodium (bananas) all improve cardiovascular health.

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