Health risks

A key facts about a selection of common health problems. 

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  • Created by: Lorna
  • Created on: 27-04-12 09:33

High blood pressure

Around 30% of people in England have high blood pressure but many don't know it. If left untreated, high blood pressure increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. All adults should have their blood pressure checked at least every five years.

You can take effective steps to prevent high blood pressure by:

· losing weight if you need to

· exercising regularly

· eating a healthy diet

· cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol

· stopping smoking

· cutting down on salt and caffeine

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Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.

Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may in fact be motivating to another. Stress is not itself an illness but it can cause serious illness if not tackled. It is important to recognise the symptoms of stress early.

This will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.

Spotting the early signs of stress will also help prevent it worsening and potentially causing serious complications, such as high blood pressure, anxiety and depression.


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Obesity is when a person is carrying too much body fat for their height and sex. A person is considered obese if they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

Obesity can cause a number of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes  and heart disease Being overweight or obese can also shorten life expectancy . In obese adults over 40 years of age, obesity can shorten life expectancy by 6-7 years. 

Obesity is treated by losing weight, which can be achieved through a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased exercise. The lifestyle changes necessary for log-term weight loss can be challenging to achieve, but there is a wide range of support available. Surgery can be used to treat people who are severely obese and have tried other methods of weight loss with no success.

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High cholesterol

Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:

· narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) 

· heart attack 

· stroke 

· mini-stroke (TIA)

This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the flow of blood to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the chance of a blood clot developing somewhere.

The first step in reducing cholesterol is to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. It is important to keep your diet low in fatty food, especially food containing saturated fat, and eat lots of fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals.

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Smoking poisons your body and causes over 80% of deaths from lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema (chronic breathing difficulty), and a quarter of deaths from heart disease. But if you stop now, you'll start to cut your risk of these and many other diseases.

After 15 years of not smoking, your risk of heart attack is the same as if you’d never smoked at all.Within a year of stopping smoking, your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a continuing smoker, and within 10 years the risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker.



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