Which Health Conditions Could Put Me at Higher Risk for Heart Disease?

Heart dis­ease is a seri­ous health con­cern, as it is the lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States. There are sev­er­al risk fac­tors asso­ci­at­ed with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, from genet­ics to con­di­tions that can mod­i­fied be with treat­ment. If you are at risk of heart dis­ease, it is impor­tant to be aware of any risks or con­di­tions you that may have in order to pre­vent com­pro­mis­ing your heart health.

The fol­low­ing con­di­tions could put you at high­er risk for car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease:

Dia­betes

What is diabetes?

Dia­betes is the result of too much sug­ar in the blood stream or an abnor­mal blood glu­cose lev­el. There are two types of dia­betes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 dia­betes, which typ­i­cal­ly presents in ado­les­cence or onward, is when your body does not pro­duce insulin. While it can be man­aged, there is no cure. Type 2 dia­betes usu­al­ly devel­ops over the years due to life style habits and occurs when the body does­n’t pro­duce enough insulin or resists it. It can be man­aged and treat­ed by a med­ical professional.

Why is this con­di­tion a risk fac­tor for heart disease?

Dia­betes can put you at high­er risk for heart dis­ease because many of the con­di­tions asso­ci­at­ed with dia­betes con­tribute to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease as well. There is a pos­i­tive link between insulin resis­tance and high blood pres­sure, which is a com­mon risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease. Sim­i­lar­ly, a major­i­ty of patients with dia­betes expe­ri­ence high cho­les­terol which is also a char­ac­ter­is­tic of pre­ma­ture coro­nary heart disease.

How can you man­age diabetes?

There are sev­er­al meth­ods for man­ag­ing dia­betes. For instance, your doc­tor can refer you to a dia­betes edu­ca­tor to help you estab­lish a diet and exer­cise plan that allows for a nat­ur­al decrease in blood glu­cose lev­els or in some cas­es, med­ica­tion, insulin or con­tin­u­ous glu­cose mon­i­tor­ing may be needed.

Learn more about our Endocrinol­o­gy department.

Kid­ney Disease

What is kid­ney disease?

Chron­ic kid­ney dis­ease (CKD) occurs when your kid­neys become dam­aged, which can hap­pen for a vari­ety of rea­sons, and they are unable to fil­ter blood as they nor­mal­ly would. When your kid­neys are unable to func­tion nor­mal­ly, you are at a high­er risk to devel­op a vari­ety of health issues includ­ing ane­mia, bone dis­ease or an elec­trolyte imbal­ance. CKD is also an inflam­ma­to­ry dis­ease, which can increase your risk of devel­op­ing more seri­ous con­di­tions like heart disease.

Why is this con­di­tion a risk fac­tor for heart disease?

CKD and heart dis­ease often occur togeth­er because they share two com­mon risk fac­tors: dia­betes and high blood pres­sure. If you have CKD, you may have trou­ble con­trol­ling your blood pres­sure because your kid­neys are unable to reg­u­late salt and water lev­els in your body. Uncon­trolled, high blood pres­sure increas­es your risk of devel­op­ing heart dis­ease and can fur­ther dam­age your kid­neys. Sim­i­lar­ly, ele­vat­ed blood sug­ar (glu­cose) lev­els from dia­betes can cause inflam­ma­tion in the fil­ter­ing parts of the kid­ney and lead to kid­ney dam­age over time. When there is dam­age to the kid­neys, a pro­tein called albu­min can leak into the urine. A high­er amount of albu­min in the urine is also asso­ci­at­ed with a high­er risk of heart disease.

How can you man­age kid­ney disease?

If you have CKD, your pri­ma­ry care provider and your nephrol­o­gist will work togeth­er to close­ly mon­i­tor your blood pres­sure and glu­cose lev­els. Often med­ica­tions are pre­scribed to keep both lev­els under con­trol to pre­vent fur­ther kid­ney dam­age and reduce your risk of devel­op­ing oth­er health issues, like heart dis­ease. Stay­ing active can also help keep your kid­neys and heart healthy. Aim for 30 min­utes or more of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty each day.

Learn more about our Nephrologists. 

Osteo­poro­sis

What is Osteoporosis? 

Osteo­poro­sis is a dis­ease char­ac­ter­ized by the pro­gres­sive weak­en­ing of bones, result­ing in com­pro­mised bone qual­i­ty (frag­ile bones) and high risk for bro­ken bones. If left untreat­ed, you are at a high­er risk for break­ing bones with lit­tle or no trauma.

Why is this con­di­tion a risk fac­tor for Heart Disease?

Cur­rent research sug­gests that peo­ple with osteo­poro­sis have a greater risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, includ­ing coro­nary artery dis­ease and stroke. The same goes for patients with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, as they’re more like­ly to have low bone den­si­ty and osteo­porot­ic frac­ture. The link between these two con­di­tions is believed to be their sim­i­lar­i­ties in risk fac­tors — seden­tary lifestyle, smok­ing, dia­betes, stress, hyper­ten­sion and aging, in addi­tion to inflam­ma­tion, hor­mon­al changes (such as menopause) and vit­a­min D defi­cien­cy. So, chances are if you’re work­ing to take care of your bones, you’re tak­ing care of your heart, too.

How can I man­age Osteoporosis?

After con­fir­ma­tion of osteo­poro­sis, you will be eval­u­at­ed for under­ly­ing caus­es of poor bone qual­i­ty through blood tests, per­son­al his­to­ry and phys­i­cal exam­i­na­tion. While there is no cure for osteo­poro­sis, your provider will rec­om­mend lifestyle mod­i­fi­ca­tions and med­ica­tions to main­tain or improve bone den­si­ty and reduce your risk of seri­ous fractures. 

PCOS

What is PCOS?

Poly­cys­tic Ovary Syn­drome (PCOS) is a hor­mon­al dis­or­der which results in infre­quent men­stru­al peri­ods. While there are no known caus­es for PCOS, fac­tors such as insulin resis­tance and high lev­els of the hor­mone andro­gen may play a role in the devel­op­ment of the disease.

Why is this con­di­tion a risk fac­tor for Heart Disease?

Seri­ous health con­di­tions can devel­op in women with PCOS, espe­cial­ly women who are over­weight. Addi­tion­al­ly, sleep apnea, increased LDL and decreased HDL are com­mon health issues which increase the risk for heart disease.

How can I man­age PCOS?

Weight man­age­ment and mod­er­ate exer­cise play an impor­tant role in reduc­ing the risk of long-term complications.

Learn more about our Obstet­rics and Gyne­col­o­gy department.

Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when your res­pi­ra­to­ry air­ways are inter­rupt­ed dur­ing sleep and can fall into two cat­e­gories; obstruc­tive sleep apnea or cen­tral sleep apnea. Obstruc­tive sleep apnea is when the soft tis­sue in your throat col­laps­es dur­ing sleep, caus­ing block­age of your air­way. Cen­tral sleep apnea is less com­mon and is not caused by an air­way block­age but by a fail­ure of your brain to com­mu­ni­cate move­ment to your mus­cles for breath­ing dur­ing sleep.

Why is this con­di­tion a risk fac­tor for heart disease?

Sleep apnea inter­rupts reg­u­lar breath­ing pat­terns dur­ing the night and inhibits a rest­ful night’s sleep, which can be asso­ci­at­ed with high blood pres­sure, irreg­u­lar heart rhythm, stroke and heart fail­ure. A reg­u­lar sleep sched­ule helps to keep your body bal­anced in its cir­ca­di­an rhythm, how­ev­er, when your body is not ful­ly rest­ed, dif­fer­ent parts of your body may have to com­pen­sate for the fatigue.

How can you man­age sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is most com­mon­ly diag­nosed from a sleep study and can be man­aged with a con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure device, referred to as a CPAP mask. The mask goes over the nose and blows air into your throat to reduce block­age in your res­pi­ra­to­ry sys­tem. Oth­er treat­ments to man­age sleep apnea include den­tal appli­ances or sur­gi­cal interventions.

Learn more about the Sleep Cen­ter of DuPage Med­ical Group. 

Learn more about all of our depart­ments or sched­ule an appoint­ment with a spe­cial­ist online.

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