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Blog Post

Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

Chest pain, shortness of breath, and a racing heartbeat — these are just some of the signs and symptoms of heart disease. But why let it get that far? 

At Bentley Heart, we know that understanding your risk for heart disease is one the most important parts of catching potential problems before they become serious. 

Here, we walk through some of the most common risk factors for heart disease so you can take steps to protect your heart. 

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of how much force your blood exerts against the walls of your arteries when your heart beats. High blood pressure damages the lining of your arteries and also makes it easier for fat to accumulate. When fat gathers in your arteries, they narrow, and it becomes incredibly difficult to efficiently pump blood throughout your body. 

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of high blood pressure is that it almost never causes any symptoms — that’s why many medical professionals call it the “silent killer.” The only way to truly know if you have high blood pressure is to measure it regularly. 

High cholesterol

Cholesterol has become a sort of buzzword in health and wellness circles, and for good reason. 

On one hand, your body needs this waxy substance to do a variety of things like build cells, digest food, and make hormones. On the other hand, if you have too much, the excess cholesterol collects in your arteries and can decrease blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other areas of your body. 

Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol doesn’t typically cause any symptoms. That’s why it’s important to have it tested regularly. We can check your cholesterol levels with a simple blood test called a lipid profile. 

Diabetes

Diabetes famously causes a buildup of excess sugar in your blood, which leads to an avalanche of health problems that affect everything from your nervous system to your cardiovascular system. If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have heart disease than those who don’t. 

Obesity

Obesity is a common, serious, and chronic disease that affects both children and adults. It’s closely linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and as a result, heart disease.

Lifestyle factors

Underlying health conditions aren’t the only things putting you at risk for heart disease — your lifestyle can also play a role. Some of the most common lifestyle factors that contribute to heart disease include:

  • A diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

One of the riskiest behaviors is using tobacco products, because cigarette smoking damages your heart and blood vessels and nicotine raises your blood pressure. Even if you don’t smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke, you could be at an increased risk.

Genetics

Do cardiovascular problems run in your family? Chances are you’ll deal with them at some point in your life as well, especially if you identify with any of the lifestyle factors we mentioned above.

How do we treat heart disease?

Heart disease is a serious problem, but the good news is there are many approaches you can take to manage your symptoms and control the progression of heart disease. We usually start with your habits. That means helping you:

  • Get better sleep
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Manage your stress
  • Exercise more
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Quit smoking

Depending on your needs, you may also benefit from medications. In the most serious cases, you may require surgery to address heart damage. 

Worried you’re at risk? Don’t wait to talk with our expert. Call or click to schedule an appointment at our Fort Worth, Texas, office today. 

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