A Cardiologist Reveals the Ways You’re Wrecking Your Heart (Aside From Smoking)
About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
The most common cause of a weak heart is blockage to the coronary arteries. It kills more than 370,000 people annually.
“Some people do everything right and never get in trouble,” Dr. Alfred Casale, associate chief medical officer of Geisinger Health System and chair of the Geisinger Heart Institute, says.[slideshow:100250]
“Others have a genetic predisposition. But this is a tendency, not a sentence.” They can turn the problem around or exacerbate it by misbehaving, he adds.
“Heart disease really is the end result of a long equation of very different factors, which can cause or limit heart trouble, Dr. Casale says. You have no control over family history, sex, or what happened in the past. “These are the cards you have been dealt. Accept it and move on. Play the rest of the hand,” Dr. Casale adds.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans have at least one of these three, the CDC says.
A number of other aspects affect this “complicated but also an amazing machine.” Some of them may surprise you. For example, new evidence suggests that even a little bit of alcohol can damage the muscle tissues, Dr. Casale says. “If you drink, be gentle with yourself. If you don’t, don’t start.”