Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center
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Heart Health and Family History: How You Can Reduce Your Risk Factors

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women, causing over 25% of American deaths in 2006. Scientists have established two main categories of factors that put people at a higher risk for developing conditions that affect the heart: modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. Modifiable risk factors are defined as habits, such as tobacco use, dietary choices, and physical activity level, that can be altered if one so chooses. Non-modifiable risk factors, including characteristics such as age and genetics, cannot be altered to decrease risk for heart disease.

So, what roles do these non-modifiable, inherited risk factors play in the development of cardiovascular disease? After carefully evaluating the human genome, scientists found that some genes specifically influence cardiovascular risk by affecting certain physiological processes. Genetic and protein markers have been found that may help physicians to identify the heightened risk for developing certain types of heart disease.

Although these genetic risk factors cannot be altered, they can help you to know and predict future cardiovascular events. People at risk for heart disease can still greatly benefit from modifying their behavior to ensure that they are physically active, eat well, and avoid tobacco use. Monitoring cardiovascular activity and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control with the help of your general practitioner or cardiologist will do wonders in lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. Those with higher risk can also improve their futures by:

  • Maintaining good dental hygiene
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Managing stress
  • Controlling diabetes by maintaining stable blood glucose levels

Are you at risk for heart disease? To find out more about your risk factors or to locate an experienced cardiologist in the community of Thousand Oaks, CA, contact Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center by calling (805) 497-2727.

Causes and Symptoms of Arrhythmias

Heart, stethoscope and EKG

Cardiac arrhythmias, also called heart rhythm disturbances, are common disorders that result in abnormal heart rhythms. Arrhythmias can cause the heart to beat too slowly, too quickly, or at an irregular rate. The most common cause of these disorders is a heart attack, which cuts off the heart’s blood supply and causes the electrical activity of the heart muscle to become irregular and erratic. Other causes of arrhythmia include:

  • Birth defects
  • Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use
  • Diet pills
  • Diseased heart valves or heart muscle
  • Stress
  • Certain prescription medications

Although some cardiac arrhythmias can occur without any symptoms, others can lead to very noticeable ones, such as:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sensations of a missed or extra heartbeat or heart fluttering (palpitations)

When you experience symptoms of cardiac arrhythmia, it is usually a sign that your muscles or brain is not receiving adequate blood flow due to decreased functionality of the heart. When you experience chest pain, this can be a sign that the heart muscle itself is not receiving enough blood.

Arrhythmias can be detected during a routine physical exam or as a result of you reporting symptoms to your physician. If an arrhythmia is identified or suspected, your doctor will perform tests to evaluate your cardiovascular health. These tests often include an electrocardiogram (EKG), an exercise stress test to evaluate the function of the heart during increased physical activity, or an echocardiogram. If your cardiologist wants a more precise view of blood flow through the heart, he or she may recommend coronary angiography or nuclear scanning.

You can reduce your risk of developing a dangerous arrhythmia by avoiding the complications associated with cardiovascular disease. To identify your risk factors and work to prevent heart disease, schedule a consultation with a cardiologist at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center’s Heart Center by calling (805) 497-2727.

Learn More About Our Recent Blog Topics!

Healthy Life Sign

Understanding your risk for disease is a great first step towards prevention. Learn more about heart disease and the other topics discussed in our recent blogs by reading through the resources below. If you have any further questions, let the staff at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center help. Contact us at (805) 497-2727 today.

  • This article from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more detailed information about heart valve disease.
  • Read more about congenital heart disease from WebMD.com.
  • The introduction of robotic surgical systems has dramatically enhanced surgeons’ abilities to perform procedures through much tinier incisions. Learn more about the benefits of these systems from the Oregon Health & Science University website.
  • The Brown University website gives a comprehensive overview of robotic surgical procedures.
  • This article from PubMed Health describes the causes, incidence, and risk factors for a heart attack.
  • You can read this health guide from The New York Times to get more information about the recent findings regarding heart attacks.
  • Read more about the warning signs of myocardial infarction from the American Heart Association.
  • Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Learn more about it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
  • Exercise is one of the most effective ways to keep your heart healthy. This article from MedicineNet.com answers some questions about heart health and exercise.
  • Learn more about heart health for women from WomensHealth.gov.

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