Heart Disease Risk Factors
Are you interested in pursuing a healthier lifestyle and preventing heart disease? Let us help.
The board-certified and fellowship-trained heart doctors at Cardiology Consultants of North Morris in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, are dedicated to helping prevent and manage cardiovascular disease.
Are you at risk of developing heart disease? Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Alcohol abuse or substance abuse
- Excess weight and obesity
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Smoking tobacco
Many people know that diet and cholesterol levels can affect heart health. But how well do you understand cholesterol?
Where Cholesterol Comes From
There are two main sources of cholesterol: our bodies and the foods we eat.
The liver produces cholesterol, a fatty substance, which travels through the blood vessels and is required for digestion and hormone production, among other things.
We also get cholesterol from our diet – specifically, in animal products we consume such as meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs.
Because the amount of cholesterol produced by our bodies is generally all that we need, excess cholesterol in the foods we eat can lead to too much cholesterol in our bloodstream, where it may clog artery walls and lead to heart attack and stroke.
Good vs Bad Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol:
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) – the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove harmful cholesterol from the bloodstream. It picks up and transports LDL cholesterol to the liver, where it is prepared for elimination from the body. A diet high in fiber, whole grains, fatty fish, and olive oil is thought to increase a person’s HDL levels.
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) – the “bad” cholesterol because it sticks to blood vessel walls, which can build up and block blood flow to the heart, brain, and other areas of the body. Saturated fats like red meat and whole-fat dairy products can increase LDL levels in the body.
Normal Cholesterol Levels
Your cholesterol levels may vary, depending on your age, weight, gender, health history, and other cardiovascular risk factors you may have. In general, however, the following ranges are considered normal or preferred for most adults:
- Total Cholesterol Level. This is a measure of all cholesterol in your blood; the higher the number, the higher your risk of heart disease. Normal levels are < 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter).
- HDL Cholesterol Level. This measures the amount of “good” cholesterol in your blood. Good levels are > 60 mg/dL, as higher levels indicate increased protection against heart disease.
- LDL Cholesterol Level. This measures your “bad” cholesterol levels. Ideally, your LDL levels should be < 100 mg/dL.
Learn how to control your risk factors and prevent heart disease by calling our New Jersey cardiologists at (973) 586-3400 or request an appointment online at Cardiology Consultants of North Morris's main office in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, or at one of our satellite locations.