Understanding Heart Health: Risks, Prevention, and Key Indicators

By Bashir Murtaza · January 14th 2024
Explore our comprehensive guide to understanding heart health, delving into the essentials of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and heart health indicators.

Understanding Heart health is a critical aspect of overall wellness, yet it's often overlooked until problems arise. This article aims to shed light on the importance of maintaining a healthy heart, understanding the risks of cardiovascular diseases, and how to effectively manage and prevent them.


Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your physician or a healthcare professional for medical advice and before making any health-related decisions.

What is the Heart?

The heart is a muscular organ that is central to the body's circulatory system.

It functions nonstop, pumping blood throughout the body, which carries essential nutrients and oxygen to every cell and removes waste products.

The heart also works with other systems, like the nervous and endocrine systems, to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, and overall fluid balance in the body.

Understanding Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) encompasses a range of conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. Common types include coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmias, and hypertension

Hypertension specifically is one of the leading causes of CVD.

Let's go over blood pressure more and hypertension specifically to get a better understanding of how it affects your heart. 

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the body's arteries.

It's a vital sign, indicating the health of the circulatory system. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and recorded as two figures: systolic pressure (the pressure when the heart beats and pumps blood) and diastolic pressure (the pressure when the heart rests between beats).

Understanding Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when blood pressure is consistently too high. It's often termed the "silent killer" because it can go unnoticed for years, causing damage to blood vessels and the heart without noticeable symptoms.

You will be surprised on how many "healthy" people have hypertension. I was once in this category as well.

Hypertension is typically defined as having a blood pressure higher than 130/80 mmHg.

Causes of Hypertension

The exact causes of hypertension are often complex and multifactorial.

Factors include:

  • genetics
  • age
  • diet
  • lack of exercise
  • obesity
  • consumption
  • stress
  • substance abuse (alcohol, nicotine are just some examples)
  • other underlying conditions

How Hypertension Affects the Heart

High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder to pump blood, which can cause the heart muscle to thicken and become less efficient, a condition known as hypertensive heart disease.

This increased strain raises the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

Hypertension can also contribute to atherosclerosis, where arteries harden and narrow, further increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease

Preventing CVD involves a combination of healthy consistent lifestyle choices and regular medical check-ups. Key strategies include maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco use, and managing stress. 

Those suggestions above are all very high level and you can even have those all in check and still have hypertension.

I'll have a more in depth article that dives into ways to lower your blood pressure naturally as someone who once had high blood pressure even though I thought I had the above all in check.

Testing Heart Health

When visiting a doctor, it's important to discuss heart health proactively. Ask for tests like blood pressure measurement, bloodwork  and electrocardiograms (ECGs).

These tests can provide valuable insights into heart health and help detect issues early on.

Let's go over some blood work indicators to look out for though.

Blood Mark Indicators

Certain blood markers can indicate poor heart health. High levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides, or low levels of HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), are red flags. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) can also indicate inflammation in the body, including the blood vessels.

  1. Cholesterol Levels:

    • LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein): Often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, high levels can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.
    • HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein): Known as "good" cholesterol, it helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the bloodstream. Higher than normal is still not considered good though.
    • Total Cholesterol: The sum of LDL and HDL cholesterol.
    • Triglycerides: High levels are associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease
    • Total Cholesterol to HDL Ratio: Lower ratios are better. A ratio below 4:1 is considered desirable. Higher ratios increase the risk for heart disease.
    • LDL to HDL Ratio: This ratio compares the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) with the "good" cholesterol (HDL). A lower ratio indicates a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
    • Triglyceride to HDL Ratio: This is calculated by dividing your triglyceride level by your HDL cholesterol level. The ratio is considered one of the best predictors of heart health. A lower ratio is generally better. Ideally, this ratio should be below 2.
  2. C-Reactive Protein (CRP): This marker indicates inflammation in the body, including the blood vessels. High levels of CRP are linked with an increased risk of heart disease

  3. Blood Sugar Levels: High blood sugar can indicate diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease.

  4. Homocysteine: Elevated levels of this amino acid in the blood can increase the risk of coronary artery disease.

  5. Triglycerides: High levels of triglycerides can contribute to the hardening or thickening of artery walls (atherosclerosis), increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
  6. Fibrinogen: This blood clotting factor can indicate an increased risk of heart disease. High levels can lead to excessive clotting and increased risk of heart and vascular diseases.

  7. Lipoprotein(a): This type of lipoprotein is similar to LDL but contains an additional protein. High levels can increase the risk of developing early heart disease.

  8. Apolipoprotein A1: This is the primary protein component of HDL cholesterol. Higher levels are generally associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

  9. Apolipoprotein B: The main component of LDL cholesterol. Higher levels are associated with heart disease.

Reading your blood work in isolation doesn't tell the full story. Having the full context gives you a better idea of where you are at. 

Again, please talk to your doctor about all these markers for more details.

Genetic Factors in Heart Health

Genetics can play a significant role in heart health.

Family history of heart disease, especially in close relatives at a young age, can indicate a higher risk. Genetic conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia can also impact heart health significantly.

Final Thoughts

This article mainly dives into heart health and understanding heart health overall.

I'll soon be discussing ways to improve your heart health with diet, exercise and stress management.

Sign up to our newsletter to stay on the look out.


About the Author

I'm Bashir and I'm the CEO of Blob Technology and founder of Blob Fitness. With experience in weight lifting, nutrition, and training others for 10+ years, I'm trying to help provide as much content and tools I can to help you along your fitness journey and learn as much as possible.

Similar Posts

Can Cardio Kill Your Gains?
Can Cardio Kill Your Gains?

Can cardio kill your gains? Discover how it impacts muscle growth, and how to balance cardio and strength.

How to Incorporate Cardio into Your Regimen
How to Incorporate Cardio into Your Regimen

Explore effective ways to incorporate cardio into your regimen, covering zones, benefits, endurance tips, and balancing with weight training.

Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure

Explore natural ways to lower blood pressure. Learn key tips and misconceptions to help you on your journey.