If your mother and your father had heart disease, and their parents before them, you may feel doomed to heart failure. While it is true that heredity is a cause of heart disease, it is only a factor among many others. One recent study even says heredity accounts for less than 10% of a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
So, What is the Other 90%?
Doctors do not agree on the number one cause of heart disease, but smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol are the frontrunners in any study.
The chemicals in cigarettes damage artery walls, making it easier for cholesterol deposits to build an unhealthy, blood-blocking home in the body. Smoking also makes platelets, the component of blood that causes clotting, to be more active, and hence the risk of a killer clot rises.
A body needs cholesterol and can actually produce all it needs, so when we ingest foods high in cholesterols, like dairy and meat products, our bodies get a lot more cholesterol than they need. The body saves cholesterol instead of excreting it, and that cholesterol gets stored along the walls of the arteries. Too many cholesterol deposits lead to artery blockage and clots.
High blood pressure is also a major cause of heart disease. Imagine this, your arteries are narrowed because of all that cholesterol stored in there, yet your body is the same size and needs the same amount of blood; so your heart is trying to pump a lot of blood through a passage that is getting too small. Just as the motor of an air conditioner can get worn out trying to push air through a filter that no one has cleaned, your heart can overtax itself trying to force blood through blocked passages.
Obesity, not just because of all the health problems that come with it, is another cause of heart disease. Often obesity comes with high cholesterol and blood pressure, which we know increase the risk of heart disease, but new studies are also showing a correlation between abdominal fat and heart disease in a way that is not yet fully understood. Either way, as the circumference of stomach increases, the risk of heart disease seems to increase more.
Also, stress causes an overall decline in health and is particularly associated with heart disease. So, unless your parents are stressing you out enough to cause a heart attack, they are not the cause of heart disease.