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A major factor in developing heart disease is high cholesterol, but could the environment be more of a risk factor? Inhaling second hand smoke - not actually smoking a cigarette - could be a major factor in heart disease. The most common reasons for developing some type of heart disease are age, male gender, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking cigarettes and diabetes; but scientists are taking a closer look at second hand smoke as a large contributing factor.
Recent studies have shown that those who have daily exposure to highly polluted air, such as in larger cities, have a reduced life expectancy by several years. The details and findings from these studies are both fascinating and concerning. There is a definite direct relation between sudden heart attacks of those who live close to a major road or highway, as opposed to those who life in the country. For example, people who run on major congested roads experience more detrimental health effects than those who run on back country roads. Scary thought!
Another recent study compared the effects of traditional risk factors and second hand smoke on the heart’s arteries. Evidence shows that moderate exposure to second hand smoke was just as risky as high cholesterol and those who were extensively exposed had a much higher risk than those with elevated cholesterol. The worst of the worst was those who had exposure to second hand smoke during childhood coupled with adult exposure to smoke at home and at work.
The results of these recent studies are cause for concern. Many people are aware of their cholesterol numbers and aware of how dangerous high cholesterol is for your heart, but not nearly as many people take the proper precautions to stay away from second hand smoke. Not many people are aware of the negative effects second hand smoke has on your heart and your long term health.
If you want to take control of your environment you can avoid restaurants that allow smoking and exercise on a quiet country road or a private trail rather than taking the busy route. Never expose your children to smoke in the home, in the car or anywhere people may be smoking. Taking the proper precautions today and save your health!