Risk Factors for Heart Disease

While you may be more afraid of cancer than of heart disease, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with almost 650,000 victims in a recent year. All forms of cancer combined claimed just under 600,000 lives that year. Contrast those numbers with auto accident fatalities, which were fewer than 40,000

Despite the scary numbers, you can lower your risk, because heart disease is preventable. Kimberly Bolling, MD, a caring and highly skilled internist, offers electrocardiogram (EKG) testing and regular blood pressure tests to be sure your heart is healthy.  

Are you at risk for heart disease? Take a moment to learn what you can do to minimize your risk.

You’re obese or overweight

Your heart has to pump blood throughout your body. If you’re overweight, it has to work harder than it should to ensure that your tissues get the oxygen and nutrients they need. Large amounts of fat around your waist increase your risk for heart disease, even if you don’t have other risk factors.

Being overweight or obese impacts your health in other ways, too. Obesity puts you at risk for a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea, and increases the chances that you’ll develop diabetes or have a heart attack or stroke. 

If you’re having trouble losing weight on your own, Dr. Bolling recommends medically supervised weight loss. She and her teamwork to help you achieve a healthy, stable weight. 

You have high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t have any symptoms. That’s why you should see Dr. Bolling every year for a complete physical examination. 

She and her team check your blood pressure and make recommendations for lifestyle changes or medications if it’s high.

You’re a smoker

Smoking robs your tissues — including your heart — of oxygen. It also damages your blood vessels, interrupting their ability to efficiently carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients through your body. If you need to give up cigarettes, Dr. Bolling can refer you to a smoking-cessation program.

You drink alcohol or use drugs

Abusing alcohol and drugs may raise your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack and stroke. Substance abuse is a serious problem that isn’t easy to handle on your own. 

Dr. Bolling refers you to experienced and compassionate counselors who help you break your addiction and find healthier ways of managing stress.

You eat too many unhealthy fats

If you eat a diet that’s high in processed foods, you could be damaging your heart and blood vessels by keeping them in a state of chronic inflammation. Inflammation in your blood vessels causes them to form plaques that make them stiff and inflexible and also constrict the flow of blood.

Dr. Bolling works with you to find healthier substitutions for the foods you love. Once you get into a healthier diet that emphasizes whole foods rather than processed foods, you’ll notice that you feel better and look better, too.

Some risk factors for heart disease are out of your control. You’re more likely to have heart disease if you’re African American, a man, or have a family history of heart disease. Your risk increases as you age, too. If you’re in a high-risk category, be sure to see Dr. Bolling for an evaluation.

Dr. Bolling and her team are committed to keeping you and your heart healthy for life. To schedule an EKG or get a physical exam, call our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or request an appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Bolling and the team here on our website.

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