Heart Health: Heart Disease
Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. Heart diseases include:
- Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease
- Heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
- Heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects)
- Heart valve disease
- Disease of the heart muscle
- Heart infection
Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Risk factors for heart disease can be divided up into those that are modifiable and those that are not.
In terms of the ones that are not, by far the biggest risk factor is age, so advancing age is a very strong predictor of a cardiovascular event. There are a number of modifiable risk factors as well.
In particular, diet and exercise are things that really need to be encouraged in terms of preventing the development of heart disease and also modifying the outcome once people actually have developed heart disease. It’s important for people to know what the risk factors are and what to do about them. If they’ve got concerns, I think it’s important that they consult their physician.
Heart Disease Prevention Strategies
It’s important for younger people to be aware of their cardiovascular risk factors, and to do their best to modify them.
In particular I think exercise is a critical part of risk reduction, and it’s important to have at least half an hour of exercise three times a week. Diet is a big part as well. A low salt diet, low fat diet, high in fruits and vegetables, alcohol moderation is important as well.
And obviously reducing the major risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes control, pays very well long-term dividends.
It’s important for young people to be informed of their heart disease risk factors and to deal with them before they develop an event rather than after. And, certainly the relationship with their physician is crucial in terms of long term awareness and control of the risk factors.
Local Practitioners: Cardiologist
Psychiatric Effects on Heart Disease
Psychological factors are independent risk factors for coronary heart disease.
There’s research evidence suggesting that increased stress, social isolation, lack of support and a number of psychiatric illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and panic disorder all tend to increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 1.5 to 3-fold.
If you have had a heart attack recently and suffer from depression, that tends to affect your prognosis, the chances of you recovering from your heart attack.
So make sure you seek help for your depression because that will increase your chances of staying well from the cardiovascular point of view. If you have more questions about the relationship between stress, psychiatric conditions and heart disease, please make sure to speak with your family physician.