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7 Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease
Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed
Among smokers, cardiovascular disease (and not cancer) is the leading cause of death, worldwide. Coronary heart disease and stroke are the primary types of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking. Toxins in the blood from smoking cigarettes contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.

Smoking-related coronary heart disease may contribute to congestive heart failure. Smoking harms not only the smokers but also the people around them. There are studies that report that the cardiovascular system of nonsmokers is extremely sensitive to tobacco toxins inhaled during passive smoking. Second-hand smoke is responsible for making platelets stickier, causing inflammation, reducing HDL cholesterol levels, increasing LDL cholesterol levels and increasing insulin resistance.

Smoking as few as 3 to 5 cigarettes per day substantially increases the risk of heart attack and death. This is truer for women than men. Individuals under age 40 who smoke tobacco products have a five times higher chance of having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) than nonsmokers.

Smoking tobacco out of a water pipe, also known as a hookah is hazardous, and poses as much risk to the smoker as cigarette smoking does. Water in the hookah does not filter out all the toxins.
Lifestyle related
In general, most of us – out of sheer ignorance - lead relatively sedentary lives, eat unhealthy foods and do not focus modifying our lifestyles.

Lifestyle modification can be an effective preventive strategy for coronary heart disease. It has minimal risk, no cost, and can be applied to individuals and masses alike. The following are what you can follow to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid obesity
  • Reduce intake of saturated fat
  • Increase intake of fruits and
  • vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce unwanted stress
  • Don’t eat and go to sleep immediately
  • Reduce the mid-zone (abdomen) - it’s the danger zone too
  • Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of workout every day
  • A smiling start to the day is a good idea. Be positive
  • Let the boss do the sulking; why kill yourself?
Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed is Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Bangalore
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