World Heart Day was established at the beginning of the 21st century as a means or the World Heart Federation to increase awareness about heart health. Worldwide, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death each year, resulting in the lost of over 17.5 million lives. The World Heart Federation has the goal to see a 25 percent reduction in “premature deaths from cardiovascular disease around the world” by 2025. With the belief that knowledge is the first step toward this goal, recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart disease can help to take the proper steps in preventing future attacks. Here are some things to keep track of to determine if you are at risk of heart disease:
- High blood sugar levels – blood sugar, also referred to as blood glucose, is an indicator of diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, it could be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes. In fact, the World Heart Federation reports that cardiovascular disease “accounts for 60 percent of all deaths in people with diabetes, so it if is left undiagnosed and untreated it can put you at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.”
- Weight gain – While obesity can certainly play a role in your cardiovascular disease, being overweight to begin with and specifically around your waistline can be a sign even if you have a normal body mass index (BMI). A study published in the medical journal Stroke revealed that “waist circumference and related ratios can better predict cerebrovascular events than BMI.”
- Routinely high blood pressure – Blood pressure is likely one of the best signs of your risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the World Heart Federation, high blood pressure is “called the ‘silent killer’ because it has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people don’t realize they have it.” Making sure you go to regular visits with your doctor can help to keep you informed regarding your blood pressure levels, and could possibly even save your life.
- High cholesterol – Cholesterol is also a common indicator of the risk of cardiovascular disease, as high levels of low density lipoproteins in your bloodstream can be a sign of clogged or damaged arteries. Common sources of LDL cholesterol include trans fats in factory-produced foods. Saturated fats in animal products like red mean, whole-fat dairy and cheeses, as well as processed foods, such as deli meat, sausage and hot dogs are things to be a bit cautious with.
If you have any concern that you may be at risk for cardiovascular disease based on any of the information listed above or any other symptoms you may be feeling, make an appointment to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Alongside your doctor, you can make changes to your diet and exercise habits to decrease any risk for cardiovascular disease and improve your overall health.