Unless you’ve been sequestered from television news and social media, you probably know that heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S., responsible for killing over 800,000 people a year. That’s more people than cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. Over 92 million Americans are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease, to the tune of $316 billion in health costs and loss of productivity.
Common risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood cholesterol
- Cigarette smoking
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Family history
The newest risk factor for heart disease is gray hair. Yes, you heard that right.
Before you go running for a box of “Just for Men,” it’s important to understand that it’s still early – researchers are only beginning to understand the relationship between gray hair and heart disease; more specifically, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
One widely-accepted risk factor for heart disease is advancing age. Along with gender and family history, age is considered one of the non-modifiable risk factors. Almost from birth, coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) begin to accumulate plaque, made up from cholesterol, fat, calcium and other material on the lining of the arteries. The result over time is a narrowing of the internal diameter and inflexibility of the artery walls.