▪ High Blood Pressure (Hypertension). High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Though other risk factors can lead to high blood pressure, you can have it without having other risk factors. If you are obese, you smoke, or you have high blood cholesterol levels along with high blood pressure, your risk of heart disease or stroke greatly increases.
Blood pressure can vary with activity and with age, but a healthy adult who is resting generally has a systolic pressure reading between 120 and 130 and a diastolic pressure reading between 80 and 90 (or below).
One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high blood cholesterol. Cholesterol, a fat-like substance carried in your blood, is found in all of your body's cells. Your liver produces all of the cholesterol your body needs to form cell membranes and to make certain hormones. Extra cholesterol enters your body when you eat foods that come from animals (meats, eggs, and dairy products).
Although we often blame the cholesterol found in foods that we eat for raising blood cholesterol, the main culprit is the saturated fat in food. (Be sure to read nutrition labels carefully, because even though a food does not contain cholesterol it may still have large amounts of saturated fat.) Foods rich in saturated fat include butter fat in milk products, fat from red meat, and tropical oils such as coconut oil.
Too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol") in the blood causes plaque to form on artery walls, which starts a disease process called atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, you are at greater risk of having a heart attack.
Diabetes. Heart problems are the leading cause of death among people with diabetes, especially in the case of adult-onset or Type II diabetes (also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes). Certain racial and...