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Which health conditions could put me at higher risk for heart disease?

By DuPage Medical Group Cardiology

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:


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. 


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. 


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


If you are interested in this health topic, you may also like: 

Monitoring Your Blood Pressure at Home

Know Your Numbers - Body Mass Index

6 Ways to Reduce Stress for a Healthier Heart

Topics and Subtopics: General Health & Heart Health

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