Everyone knows how important it is to keep the major risk factors for heart attack and stroke in check. Dont smoke, keep your bad cholesterol down and good cholesterol up, keep your blood pressure down- these are just a few of the common factors that weve all been schooled on time and time again. However, you may not realize that a lot of those previously mentioned risks can actually affect numerous other risks, or be affected by them. Even if you have levels of cholesterol or bloodpressure that are just slightly out of the normal range, they can be driven even higher by other factors that arent usually as well known. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Most people are aware that over the counter pain medications ibuprofen which is non-steroidal can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke, but few know the risk that certain steroids can cause. Drugs like cortisone that are prescribed for inflammatory conditions can not only raise cholesterol and blood pressure levels, but also make it easier for that cholesterol to enter the arteries. This only includes the oral or injected steroids; ones for asthma which are inhaled dont have these risks. Avoid taking these types of steroids if possible, but if you must, try not to take them for more than a few weeks at a time. Equally important is not stopping them cold turkey, as there can be serious side effects associated with abrupt stoppage of their use.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea are at an increased risk for heart attack, because the stoppage of breathing throughout the night can elevate blood pressure. There are different types of sleepapnea and different treatments for each as well. A whopping 50% of those who suffer mild sleep apnea (categorized as those who stop breathing 5-15 times per hour) are affected by what is called positional sleep apnea. This means that their breathing problems occur only when they are sleeping in certain positions, primarily, on their back. There are devices that one can wear which will force the wearer to sleep on their side or stomach. More serious cases may require the wearing of a mask which forces air into the nostrils in order to regulate breathing at night.
Primarily found in leafy green vegetables, meats, and cheeses, vitamin K has shown an ability to prevent artery hardening in animal studies. It can also cut cardiovascular risk in humans by as much as half, however most people dont get enough of it in their diets to help out. Even though it is also produced by naturally occurring bacteria in the intestines, talk to your doctor about taking high dose supplements if you match any of the other high risk categories for heart disease or attack. However, if you are already taking other blood thinners, it is not recommended to increase vitamin K intake because it can reduce their effects.