Cardiovascular disease affects nearly one out of four people in the United States. The term cardiovascular disease refers to a number of diseases and conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels, the most common types being coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
Although some risk factors for cardiovascular disease are out of your control, such as your age and genetic predisposition, many of the risk factors for the most common types of cardiovascular disease are actually within your control. Controllable risk factors include: physical activity, overweight and obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, and smoking.
The key areas of focus for controlling these risk factors are diet, exercise, weight control, and smoking cessation. Getting regular screenings to make sure that your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are within the normal range, is also important.
Diet can reduce cardiovascular risk by lowering blood pressure, improving blood cholesterol levels, and helping to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
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Exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk by reducing blood pressure, lowering your stress levels, and helping to maintain or achieve a healthy weight.
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Weight control can help reduce cardiovascular risk by reducing blood pressure and reducing your risk of diabetes.
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Smoking cessation can help reduce cardiovascular risk by lowering your overall risk for coronary heart disease and its related risks
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Whether you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure or just had a heart attack, there are a variety of available treatment options. The first line of treatment generally involves making lifestyle changes, in the areas of diet, exercise, and smoking cessation—the same areas of focus as for cardiovascular risk factor reduction. For many people, additional treatment with medication is also necessary to effectively treat cardiovascular disease. Surgery is usually reserved for treating severe cases of cardiovascular disease.
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