Stress, Poor Nutrition, and the Other Culprits of Heart Disease

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Optimal health is one of the most valuable investments anyone could have. With a healthy body, individuals can enjoy a happy and fulfilling life. In line with this, it’s imperative to be adequately informed about common medical conditions in order to identify and address risk factors as early as possible.

One particular condition that adults should watch out for is heart disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the world, bringing about an estimated 17.9 million deaths each year.

Experts claim that the alarming rise can be attributed to physical inactivity and poor nutrition, which are largely becoming a part of today’s lifestyle. Not to mention, the increasing demands in the modern workplace can be mentally taxing and cause stress.

In this article, we’ll outline a guide to heart disease, primarily focusing on the major culprits behind it.

What Causes Heart Disease?

1. Stress

While stress is a normal response to overwhelming experiences, constant bouts can have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health.

Stress triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, and according to studies, it can spike triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol levels when produced in high amounts. These are known risk factors for heart disease.

Moreover, stress can bring about changes that induce the accumulation of plaque deposits in the arteries. It can also affect blood flow to the heart muscle, lowering its supply of oxygen and blood.

What’s worse is many people turn to destructive ways to cope with stress, such as eating food of no significant nutritive value or giving in to unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol.

2. Smoking and Excessive Drinking

Both alcohol and cigarette consumption can increase blood pressure and heart rate, causing an irregular heartbeat. All these conditions prompt the heart to work harder, leading to its gradual weakening in the long term.

Smoking can also trigger the constriction of major arteries. Additionally, cigarette smoke consists of compounds and chemicals like carbon monoxide and tar, which promote the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries. Smoking also impacts the levels of the blood-clotting material fibrinogen, upping the risk of a blood clot that can potentially cause a heart attack.

3. Sedentary Lifestyle

According to the WHO, physical inactivity can double one’s likelihood of developing heart disease. Furthermore, leading a sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of obesity, a medical condition linked to cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately, the American Heart Association has stated that since 1950, the number of sedentary jobs ballooned by 83%. Hence, it’s very common for workers today to remain seated for prolonged periods that run into hours. There has to be a conscious effort among workers to become physically active.

4. Poor Nutrition

Consumption of food items rich in trans fat and saturated fats has long been associated with heart disease and other conditions. Moreover, eating foods high in cholesterol can mess up your cholesterol levels.

The liver produces enough cholesterol for the body. Thus, when you take in more than the body needs, the extra cholesterol can accumulate in the arterial walls.

In addition, a diet high in sodium can heighten blood pressure, and as it’s commonly known, blood pressure is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

5. Related Medical Conditions

Having certain medical conditions that are linked to heart disease can raise one’s risk. These include diabetes mellitus, clinical depression, and as mentioned previously, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and obesity.

This being said, it’s critical for those who are diagnosed with any of these conditions to be evaluated for cardiovascular disease. Also, avoiding any of the poor lifestyle practices mentioned earlier is highly advisable.

6. Biological Makeup

While the previously discussed causes can be successfully addressed through several lifestyle changes, there are some risk factors that are, unfortunately, invariable, such as heredity, biological sex, and age.

It has been found that the chances of developing heart disease increases in women before reaching age 65. As for men, the likelihood is heightened when they reach the age of 55. Moreover, having family members with a history of cardiovascular disease can further increase a person’s risk.

Although these factors are beyond your control, it can be helpful to consult a physician and undergo necessary tests if you are at high risk of heart disease. This way, any potential problem in your cardiovascular system can be found at its onset. More importantly, continual monitoring of your health will provide you with peace of mind.

The Takeaway

Unhealthy behaviors are steadily becoming prevalent in today’s world, while healthier choices are becoming more difficult to make. Therefore, it’s crucial to be mindful in incorporating healthy habits in your lifestyle.

It’s also essential to find positive ways to effectively manage stress. Lastly, following a well-balanced diet and staying physically active can help you achieve optimal heart health.

Dr. Jolina began her journey as a health care professional when she took her medical degree in one of the most prestigious med schools in the Philippines. With a solid foundation, the Thomasian took her residency training in internal medicine at Capitol Medical Center. Deciding her calling was to help treat people suffering from diabetes, she took her clinical fellowship at the Institute for Studies on Diabetes Foundation, Inc (ISDFI).

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