5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid

Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle

Hello. This is Heart Health Tuesdays! Today, we’ll talk about the 5 major causes of heart disease that you should avoid.


So many of the choices you make every day can impact your heart health.


Choosing to exercise and eat right every day is a decision that helps keep your heart in good working order, while opting to lay on the couch and eat junk food doesn’t do you any favors. Despite how straightforward this might sound, you might not realize just how much of an effect these decisions have on the health of your heart.


This is especially important for habits that negatively impact key risk areas like your cholesterol and blood pressure. These factors, among others, are some of the leading contributors to heart disease.


Keep a careful eye on the five major causes of heart disease so you can understand and reduce your risk of developing this condition and maintain your overall health.


Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle

Major Causes of Heart Disease

In most cases, heart disease is the result of genetics or poor health caused by smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and uncontrolled diabetes.



The most common danger associated with smoking is lung disease, but it can affect other parts of your body too. Smoking can make you two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than a non-smoker, especially if you smoke a pack or more every day.


Smoking can damage your blood vessels, restricting blood flow. It also raises your blood pressure and heart rate, forcing the heart to work harder to supply your organs with oxygenated blood.


High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure has been connected to a number of different complications, but heart disease is among the most prevalent.


When your blood pressure is high, your arteries become damaged over time. Plaque builds up and narrows the arteries, and the heart pumps faster and harder to maintain blood flow. The extra effort enlarges the left ventricle, weakening your heart and often resulting in congestive heart failure.



Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle


Diabetes can significantly increase your risk of heart disease, as high blood sugar damages your blood vessels.


When you have diabetes, your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide is reduced. Nitric oxide functions as a vasodilator, which means it widens your blood vessels. Without it, your blood vessels narrow, restricting blood flow.


Additionally, high blood pressure frequently occurs alongside diabetes, which increases your risk even further. This can manifest in peripheral artery disease (PAD), which limits blood flow to the legs.


High Cholesterol

Some cholesterol is necessary for your body to function regularly, but too much can lead to heart disease. This is because high cholesterol increases the amount of plaque in your blood vessels. Too much plaque narrows the vessels and inhibits blood flow.


If too much plaque builds up, these deposits can form a blockage that causes a stroke or heart attack.


Family History

Genetics can play a role in determining your likelihood of developing heart disease too. You’re more likely to have issues with blood flow and heart disease if a family member has it, especially if one of your parents or siblings has a heart attack before they turn 50.


Of course, this doesn’t mean you are fated to develop heart disease no matter what. With careful management of your health, including regular checkups with your doctor and a commitment to making heart-healthy choices, you can reduce your risk.


Reducing Your Risk Level

In many cases, reducing your risk of developing heart disease means adjusting your behaviors and taking your overall wellness seriously. You can keep your blood vessels in good working condition by making small changes to your daily habits and speaking to a medical professional.


Avoiding Harmful Behaviors

Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle

For causes of heart disease like smoking, the best thing you can do for your body is quitting. Smoking can damage many different organs and tissues throughout your body, not just your heart, so you should strive to stop as soon as possible.


If you’re having trouble quitting, at least reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. Heavy smokers have a much higher risk of damaging their hearts, and becoming a light smoker can reduce your dependency and make quitting easier.


Treat the Root Causes

Many forms of heart disease treatment involve focusing on the root causes of damage to the heart and blood vessels. This means making healthier choices on a regular basis.


For example, you can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure by adjusting your diet. Cutting out saturated and trans fats, keeping your sugar consumption under control, and decreasing your salt content in your diet are all excellent healthy behaviors.


Getting just 30 minutes of exercise each day helps treat these conditions as well. Include some cardio to improve your heart health.


Speak With a Doctor About Heart Disease Treatment

If you have a family history of heart attacks and strokes, talk to your doctor about monitoring your risk levels at your yearly medical appointments. Keeping track of changes in your blood pressure and cholesterol can help you get on top of any issues through lifestyle changes or medication treatment.


Food For Thought

The causes of heart disease come in many different forms, and all of them are dangerous. If you are affected by any of these causes, you should be more vigilant about taking good care of your heart to keep yourself healthy and strong.

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Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle


I’m excited to talk about this topic today because not only do I truly believe that you have the power to reverse heart disease and lower high blood pressure to improve your health, but the science also agrees! You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of these chronic diseases so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.


As you may already know, I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve blood pressure and reverse heart disease. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.


Tools to Improve Heart Health

Blood Pressure Monitoring

It’s very important to monitor your blood pressure. I often recommend an automatic upper arm blood pressure cuff, but a wrist blood pressure monitor is also acceptable.

Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. Nicolle

Weight Monitoring

Since weight management is very important in blood pressure control, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor.


Heart disease, 5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid, Dr. NicolleRemember, healthy lifestyle behaviors–like eating a whole-foods plant-based diet that is low in sodium, being physically active, and stress management are the best ways to prevent and control high blood pressure. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use.


Let me know what you think in the comment section below.


Stay healthy,


Dr. Nicolle


PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.

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5 Major Causes of Heart Disease You Should Avoid

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