Contributing Risk Factors of Heart Disease

Heart disease can have many risk factors. They are of two types: contributing risk factors and major risk factors. The contributing risk factors increase the possibility of having heart diseases, unlike major risk factors which are proven to increase heart disease in most of the patients. In this article, we will broaden our understanding of contributing risk factors for heart disease. We will look into contributing risk factors like alcohol consumption, stress and menopause and understand how they increase the possibility of heart disease. 

Alcohol and Heart Disease

There have been studies that indicated that people who drink a moderate amount of alcohol have been at a lower risk of heart disease compared to people who don’t consume alcohol. However, drinking too much alcohol (more than 1-2 drinks where one drink contains 1.5 fluid ounces of alcohol) can cause problems related to heart like stroke, cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeats, and high blood pressure.

Also, the average amount of alcohol-based drink contains 100-200 calories which if consumed in excess may cause obesity and other heart diseases caused due to excessive fat in the body. It is not recommended that if you are a non-drinker then start consuming alcohol as it has other ill effects too even when consumed in moderation but those who consume too much alcohol should consider consuming it in a moderate amount if not quitting completely. 

Stress and Heart Disease

stress and heart disease

Often considered in contributing risk factors for heart disease the effects of stress, socioeconomic status and behavioral habits are still being studied for how they affect the heart.

The several reasons why stress could be a factor in heart disease are:

  1. Excessive stress can raise your blood pressure and heartbeats leading to increasing demand for oxygen in the heart. This may cause angina (chest pain) or ischemia( inadequate oxygen-rich blood supply to the heart).
  2. Stress can increase the blood clotting factors in the body leading to the formation of blood clots that may further block any narrow artery (narrowed due to plaque formation) to cause a heart attack.
  3. Stress also leads to an increase in further risk factors such as smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol or overeating for combing down stress.

When you are taking excessive stress the body releases adrenaline hormones which raises the blood pressure that may harm the inner lining of arteries. After healing the walls of arteries gets thicken or harden which allows the easy build-up of plaque.

Menopause and Heart Disease

menopause and heart disease

The menopause itself doesn’t cause any heart disease but it increases other risk factors around the time of menopause. A decline in estrogen hormone secretion among women post-menopause can increase the risk factors of heart disease as estrogen has a positive effect on the inner lining of the artery wall and keeps blood vessels flexible. The other changes that occur in women’s body post menopause are high blood pressure and an increase in LDL or bad cholesterol in women’s body. Triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood) also increases in women’s body post-menopause. All these effects post menopause make it a contributing factor in heart diseases in women.

So we have establishes the three common contributing risk factors of heart disease. Some of these can be controlled and should be eliminated to keep your heart healthy. Proper management of these risk factors can lead to a reduction in the risk of heart disease.


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