Part 1: Diseases & Conditions that Affect Heart Health

Knowing what all can cause heart damage and an increased risk of heart disease is half the battle.  Below is Part 1 of a three part series of diseases and conditions that can put your heart health at risk:

1.  Arrhythmia

Cardiac Arrhythmia is when the heart does not beat rhythmically. Over 2 million people in the U.S. are living with a form of Arrhythmia – atrial fibrillation. Arrhythmias can occur in a healthy heart and be of minimal consequence. They also may indicate a serious problem and lead to heart disease, stroke or sudden cardiac death.


2.  Cholesterol

Cholesterol is important for the body because it’s used for producing cell membranes and some hormones, and serves other needed bodily functions. But we’ve all heard the saying about too much of a good thing, and it is so with cholesterol as well. If your cholesterol is too high, it is a risk to your heart health and is a major risk for stroke and coronary heart disease.

You want to have high levels of HDL cholesterol because it protects us from heart attacks. You want to have low levels of LDL cholesterol because it can form a plaque that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible. This makes it easier for a clot to form and a stroke or heart attack can result.

In order to keep your cholesterol levels where they should be:

  • Have your blood cholesterol levels checked
  • Work with your physician to develop a treatment plan, diet, exercise, etc. to get your levels under control.


3.  Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease where the fasting blood glucose is 126 milligrams or higher. If you have pre-diabetes, your fasting blood glucose is between 100 – 125 mg. There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes – This type generally occurs in children and young adults.  In type 1, the pancreas makes little or no insulin. Without daily injections of insulin, people with type 1 diabetes won’t survive.

Type 2 Diabetes – This is the most common type of diabetes that appears most often in middle-age adults.  It develops when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or develops “insulin resistance” and can’t make efficient use of the insulin it does make.

Both types of diabetes are mainly inherited and if diabetes goes untreated, serious complications can occur:  heart disease, limb amputation, kidney disease, and nerve disease.

Diabetes is treatable with either insulin shots or pills, but the risk of heart disease is still great even when the blood sugar levels are under control.  A diabetic has to change their eating habits (avoid sugar as much as possible), exercise, lose weight if needed, and take their medications as prescribed.