Risk factors for heart disease – and how to reduce them

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Public Health lists risk factors for heart disease – and how to reduce them   

Heart attack and stroke are life-threatening emergencies, warns Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant, so individuals should learn the risk factors of heart disease that can be modified, and take steps to overcome them. Cont’d below:





“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Georgia, including Southwest Health District’s 14 counties,” Grant said. “Making changes in your behavior can reduce your risk profoundly and allow you to live a healthier life.”

She said modifiable risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor eating habits
  • High blood pressure, also known as hypertension
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes

“Learning if you have high cholesterol, then working with your healthcare provider to reduce it, for example, is vital,” Grant said. “That’s why we stress the importance of regular health screenings.”

While health screenings, good diet, regular exercise, being tobacco-free and learning to manage stress effectively are important ways to lower the risk of heart disease, it also is important to know the symptoms of heart attack and stroke.

“Anyone can have a stroke, no matter your age, race or gender,” Grant cautioned. “Cardiovascular death rates increase with age, but it is a mistake to view it as a disease that only strikes the elderly. In Georgia, one out of every four people it kills is less than 65 years old.”

Symptoms that signal the need to call 911 for emergency medical attention include:

Heart Attack

  • Chest discomfort (may come and go and may feel like squeezing, fullness, pressure or pain)
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (including arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, experiencing a cold sweat


  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing (in one or both eyes)
  • Sudden, severe headache

For more information, contact your county health department or go online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.


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