Friday, April 13, 2012

What Is The Odds Of Getting A Heart Disease?

Heart disease is the world’s number 1 killer. In the United States, over 616,000 people died of heart disease in 2008, and almost 25 percent of deaths were caused by heart disease.

In a paper published on January 25, 2012 in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’, researchers from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine pointed out that a person's lifetime risk of developing heart disease might be much higher than previously thought. In fact, the risk factors people develop in younger and middle ages are going to determine their heart disease risk across our lifetime.

Any single risk factor like high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and smoking could significantly raise the chance of having a heart attack or stroke at some point in life. Most previous studies, however, have focused on how such risks would influence on a person’s heart health over the short term, say 5 to 10 years. This would certainly depict an unrealistic picture of the longer term.

After analyzing data taken from 254,000 participants in the Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project, the study found that focusing on only short-term risks could give an inaccurate sense of security, especially for those individuals aged between 40 and 50. The project was meant to measure risk factors for black and white men and women at ages 45, 55, 65 and 75.

Healthy men aged 45, according to the findings, had a 1.4 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke in their life, compared to 49.5 percent risk for men with the same age having 2 or more risk factors. Among women, the risk measured for healthy 45-year-olds was 4.1 percent, while those with 2 or more risk factors had a risk of 30.7 percent.

Even with just one risk factor, the probability was still fairly high for people to get a major cardiovascular event that would kill them or greatly decrease their quality of life or health.

Therefore, it is paramount that people should maintain optimal risk factors through middle age, which had a dramatic effect on the remainder of their life. An optimal risk factor profile means that a person does not smoke or have diabetes, has total cholesterol of less than 180 milligrams per deciliter and untreated blood pressure of less than 120 over less than 80.

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