Multiple risk factors for heart disease

Knowing your personal risk is the first step in identifying what you need to do to prevent heart disease. A wide variety of things can increase your risk of developing heart disease – some of which you can change, and some you can't.

The things that you can't modify that increase your risk of heart disease include:

  • your age. Your risk increases as you get older.
  • your relatives. A family history of heart disease such as angina (chest pain), heart attack, or stroke, especially if occurring before age 55 for men or age 65 for women, increases your risk.
  • your sex. Men are generally at greater risk than women. For women, the risk increases after menopause.
  • your ethnicity. People of African, South Asian, and Indigenous descent are more prone to heart disease.

There are some things that you can do that may help, depending on your risk factors:

  • lower your cholesterol
  • lower your blood pressure
  • quit smoking
  • reduce your alcohol intake
  • get more physical activity
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • manage stress
  • take control of your diabetes

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and whether you need any medical tests to evaluate your risk of developing heart disease.

Did you know that once you know your risk factors, it's possible to estimate your chance of developing some form of heart disease? There are many heart disease risk calculators, often based on data from large clinical studies, that your doctor can use.

Heart disease doesn't happen overnight. It can take years for the risks associated with cholesterol to turn into a heart attack or stroke. And the more risk factors you have, the higher your risk.

You can ask your doctor to calculate your heart disease risk for you. Knowing your risk of developing heart disease can help you and your doctor decide on a treatment plan and set treatment goals.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Heart-Disease-Lowering-Your-Risk

How cholesterol medications can help

How can high cholesterol lead to heart attack, heart disease and strokes?

  1. Cholesterol can build up on the walls of your veins and arteries and form hard plaques.
  2. This "hardening of the arteries" damages their lining, which sets the stage for heart disease. It also makes the vessels more prone to blood clots.
  3. Blood clots can break off and block the arteries, leading to strokes, heart attacks, or circulation problems.

Lowering high cholesterol can help protect you from these serious health problems. Lowering cholesterol may not just stop new plaques from forming on the lining – aggressively treating cholesterol may even help get rid of existing plaque buildup.

Treating high cholesterol

Although exercise and a healthy diet are often the first line of defence, sometimes they aren't enough to manage or reverse the problem. Many people also need medications to get their cholesterol to a healthier level. Here's how some common cholesterol medications work:

Statins: This group of cholesterol medications, which includes atorvastatin (Lipitor®), fluvastatin (Lescol®), lovastatin (Mevacor®), pravastatin (Pravachol®), rosuvastatin (Crestor®), and simvastatin (Zocor®), works by blocking the production of cholesterol in the liver.

Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: This type of cholesterol medication, which includes ezetimibe (Ezetrol®), works by stopping cholesterol from being absorbed into the body through the intestine.

Resins: This family of cholesterol medication, which includes cholestyramine, colesevelam (Lodalis®), and colestipol (Colestid®), removes bile acids from your body. Your body then uses up cholesterol to make up for the lost bile acids.

Fibrates: This group, which includes bezafibrate (Bezalip® SR), gemfibrozil (Lopid® and generics), and fenofibrate (Lipidil® and generics), works by breaking down cholesterol and blocking cholesterol production.

PCSK9 inhibitors: This group of cholesterol medications prevents the natural breakdown of cholesterol transporters in our body. This group includes alirocumab (Praluent®) and evolocumab (Repatha®).

Icosapent ethyl: Icosapent ethyl (Vascepa®) is a type of purified omega-3 fatty acid that enters your cell membranes which can contribute to many different effects related to your cholesterol.

Are all medications the same?

The short answer is "No." Some medications are more effective at lowering certain types of cholesterol. For example, the fibrates lower triglycerides levels more than others, which is important for people with diabetes, but are not as effective at decreasing the "bad" cholesterol (LDL-C).

Keep in mind that different medications also have different side effects, risks, and costs associated with them. As a result, it's important to have a discussion with your doctor first to see if you should be taking cholesterol medication and to find which ones may be the most appropriate for you.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Heart-Disease-Lowering-Your-Risk

Staying on your cholesterol medication

One of the biggest reasons that many people might not take their cholesterol medication as prescribed is that high cholesterol is a silent condition – it has no noticeable symptoms.

It's easy to lose your motivation when you cannot see or feel your medication making a difference. But it is important to manage your cholesterol levels because effective treatment saves lives. It all starts with making healthy lifestyle choices, taking time for exercise, and remembering to take your medication every day.

How do I improve my cholesterol health?

You can improve your cholesterol levels through these healthy habits:

  • know your levels
  • shop smart in the grocery store
  • stop smoking
  • get physically active
  • stay on your medication

Tips for remembering to take your medication

Here are some tips that have helped other people remember to take their medication every day:

  • Use a pill organizer that has a "drawer" for each day of the week.
  • Place a reminder sticker near something you do every day, such as brushing your teeth or shaving (but don't store medications in the bathroom – the humidity can damage them).
  • Set a reminder on your smart phone or download a medication reminder app to help you stay on track.
  • If you're taking multiple medications, ask your pharmacist whether the pharmacy provides a service where they repackage your medication into blister packs.
  • Write a note in your personal diary or on a calendar.
  • Put the vial of medication near the activity you will be doing when it's time to take your medication, such as near the bed, coffee pot, etc.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Heart-Disease-Lowering-Your-Risk

Reaching your cholesterol targets

What are cholesterol targets?

Cholesterol targets are specific cholesterol levels that you are trying to reach with your treatment plan. Meeting these targets will help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

There are several ways to measure your cholesterol levels. Here are a few markers that your doctor might use to help understand your risk of developing heart disease and your treatment plan.
  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C is sometimes called "bad" cholesterol since it can clog your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease.
    For many years, this was the preferred measurement for understanding your heart disease risk. Recent studies have found that LDL-C might not be very accurate for everyone. Your doctor may use other markers like your non-HDL-cholesterol or apolipoprotein B levels instead.
  • Triglycerides (TG) are not the same thing as cholesterol. They are another type of fat often found in the body. TG can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. When your TG level is high, your LDL-C levels might not be accurate.
  • Non-HDL-cholesterol (non-HDL-C) measures all types of cholesterol other than HDL-C (sometimes called "good" cholesterol). It is equal to the total cholesterol (TC) minus the HDL-C. It can represent how much harmful cholesterol you have in your blood.
  • Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) is the main protein found in several types of "bad" cholesterol including LDL-C. Like Non-HDL-C, it can also represent how much harmful cholesterol there is in your blood.

It's important to know your cholesterol levels and to keep your cholesterol in check by following your treatment plan. Effective treatment saves lives. Talk to your doctor to find out what your cholesterol levels are, what they should be, and what you can do to keep your cholesterol under control.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2023. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Heart-Disease-Lowering-Your-Risk