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7 Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease
Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is caused by blocks in the arteries of the heart, and is a major threat for humanity. There are several risk factors that predispose one to coronary heart disease. The risk factors to watch out for are:
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Family history
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Lifestyle related
Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure. The normal levels of blood pressure are 120-130/70-90 mmHg. It is the diastolic or the bottom denominator of the pressure that actually does the damage, so it is necessary to keep it down. For those with borderline levels, salt restriction can help, but if the diastolic level is consistently 90 or greater, then one should start on a pill to stem the damage.
Diabetes can be hereditary, and needs to be tightly controlled. Fasting sugars only guide you to the day’s control. HbA1c (glycosylated Hb) gives us the truth of control over the last 8 weeks.
One needs to test for HbA1c to get the true picture.
Dyslipidemia or lipid abnormalities – corresponding to high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high triglycerides - can also be hereditary. The concept that only obese or overweight people are prone to cholesterol abnormalities is a myth. We may lack enzymes to metabolize the cholesterol. Abnormal cholesterol can cause fatty deposits of plaque in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, which is a slow and progressive disease that, in turn, leads to stroke or heart attack.

The tests to look for are LDL, TGL, Total cholesterol and the ratio. For the majority of people with no other risk factors LDL below 100, TGL below 175 and total cholesterol below 180 is considered normal.

In case of pre-existing risk factors for coronary disease, cholesterol needs to be controlled more stringently, and the normal levels should be maintained at LDL below 80 and TGL below 150. This can be achieved easily by exercising 30 minutes a day or by taking drugs like statins.
Family history
Family history of heart disease is another major risk for people. As Indians, we are genetically more prone to heart disease in the first place, so we need to take more care. Cultural habits, especially diet related, can have a direct effect on one’s health. Generally, every effort must be made not to compound the impact of non-modifiable risk factors such as family history. This can be achieved by controlling one’s modifiable risk factors such as diet, smoking etc.
Stress can have both positive and negative impact. It is the direction of application of stress that we need to focus on. Consider this: if we didn’t have stress, life would be boring. It’s the adrenalin drives that liven up our day. The aggression is essential to attain life’s goals. But if this drive and aggression crosses healthy levels, i.e., when we let it get to us, when we begin to get depressed, start drinking, smoking, sulking or binging on food, then to manage the stress, we must start to work out and to exercise or participate in activities that have a calming or soothing effect on us. Most people opt for sport, yoga, calisthenics or meditation, and aim to relax with family and friends.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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