Have you ever wondered what your risk of dying of a heart attack is? Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, but the good news is that lifestyle plays an important role in determining whether you’ll end up with heart disease or, even worse, a fatal heart attack. Researchers at the University of Warwick have identified a group of what they believe are the three most important medical conditions that increase the risk of heart attack and death. In fact, when these three conditions are found together, they double the risk of heart attack and triple the risk of dying prematurely.
The three conditions that increase the risk of dying of a heart attack the most are high blood sugar level, elevated blood pressure, and obesity. These conditions are all associated with metabolic syndrome – a condition that increases the risk of heart attack and diabetes. Two other factors that also increase the risk of metabolic syndrome are high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, but these two factors appear to be less important than “the big three”. The researchers looked at 3,078 people to determine the effects of this deadly combination of conditions that so effectively increase the risk of heart attack and death.
It’s not surprising that obesity, high blood pressure, and elevated blood sugars increase the risk of heart attack and premature death. All three of these conditions have been associated with heart disease in prior studies and the combination of the three of them together greatly magnifies the risk. Unfortunately, there are many unsuspecting people walking around with undiagnosed high blood pressure and blood sugars who are putting themselves at high risk of dying of a heart attack.
The good news is that all three of these conditions that increase the risk of heart attack and death can be altered by making lifestyle changes. Eating a diet that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and one that de-emphasizes processed foods can help to lower blood sugar levels and offset obesity. Dietary changes such as eating a low sodium diet and more potassium-rich vegetables can reduce blood pressure levels to further lower the risk of dying of a heart attack. Forty minutes of aerobic exercise daily stimulates weight loss and lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
The bottom line? If you haven’t visited your doctor lately for a blood pressure and blood sugar check, now’s the time to go. If you’re carrying a few too many pounds, you may be well on your way to obesity – one of the “big three” risk factors for dying of a heart attack. Find out where you stand in terms of your numbers and make the changes necessary to reduce the impact these risk factors could have on your life. Encourage members of your family to do the same. Do it now and reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack later.