Which of the following increases your risk of heart disease?
• A. Smoking
• B. Sleep apnea
• C. Depression
• D. All of the above
The answer is D. Some heart disease risks, such as smoking, are quite commonly known, but did you know that diabetes, sleep apnea or depression could also raise your risk of a heart attack? Read on to learn some surprising heart disease risk factors and tips to lower your risk.
Diabetes. Diabetics run twice the risk of having heart disease or a stroke as non-diabetics. In fact, diabetics without a previous heart attack have the same future risk as non-diabetics with history of a heart attack! “People with diabetes or prediabetes have above normal blood glucose (sugar) levels,” says B. Keith Ellis, M.D., board certified interventional cardiologist on staff at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Over time, high blood glucose damages nerves and blood vessels, resulting in vascular disease. It’s important to carefully monitor your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and work with your doctor to keep them under control.”
Kesavan Shan, M.D., board certified diagnostic cardiologist also on staff, further advises, “If you have prediabetes, you can lower your risk of adult-onset diabetes 60% by losing 7% of body weight (15 lbs. in a 200 lb. patient) and exercising at least 30 minutes daily, five days a week.”
Poor sleep. Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects at least 12 million Americans, typified by insomnia, snoring and daytime fatigue. Most sufferers have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where tissues in the throat collapse and obstruct the airway, causing blood oxygen levels to drop. The sleeper awakes enough to cough or gasp for air, then falls asleep again with the cycle repeating throughout the night. “Sleep apnea puts extra stress on the circulation and raises the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure and diabetes,” says Dr. Shan. Sleep apnea is associated with obesity, chronic nasal congestion, large tonsils or other airway blockages. A sleep study is used to diagnose the condition.
Mental health. Depression and stress can also raise the risk of heart disease. Dr. Ellis adds, “in fact, a study of 63,000 women found that those with depression were 50% more likely to die of heart disease than women without the condition, even when other risk factors were taken into account. To combat depression and stress, experts suggest exercise, turning to friends and family, relaxation techniques and seeking professional help, if necessary.”
To learn more about heart disease please join us on Wednesday, February 20 from 6 – 8 p.m. at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital—Conference Center. Learn your 10-year risk for heart disease including cholesterol and blood pressure screenings for the first 200 people to register. Registration required and screenings provided if you meet government screening criteria. To see if you qualify and to register call 281-274-7500 or visit MethodistHealth.com/HeartScreenings.