Risk Factors for Heart Disease

There are many risk factors associated with heart disease. Risk factors are conditions or habits that increase your risk of developing a disease. Heart, circulatory diseases and stroke are caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified. Some risk factors, such as age or family history, cannot be modified, while other risk factors, like high blood pressure, can be modified with treatment.

You will not necessarily develop cardiovascular disease if you have a risk factor. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, unless you take action and work to prevent your risk factors compromising your heart health. The sooner you identify and manage your risk factors, the better your chances of leading a heart-healthy life.

Common Risk Factors You Can Modify, Treat or Control

Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, increases the heart’s workload and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

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High Cholesterol

Your risk of heart disease and stroke rises as your cholesterol rises. High cholesterol is when you have too much cholesterol in your blood.

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Diabetes

Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. It can cause damage to your blood vessels, increases your risk.

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Smoking

Smoking is a powerful independent risk factor that seriously increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

Fried foods

Unhealthy Diet

Diet is an important risk factor as it can affect other risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes.

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Physical Inactivity

Being inactive can contribute to increased risk of coronary heart disease as physical activity helps control other risk factors.

Other Modifiable or Treatable Risk Factors include:

Obesity       -

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, especially if they carry weight around their middle.

Stress        -

Stress is not a direct risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases, but it is linked to unhealthy habits like smoking and unhealthy diet, that can increase your risk.

Depression     -

Having a mental health condition may affect your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases. Like stress, depression can lead to the development other risk factors.

Alcohol          -

Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and can affect your heart rhythm, increasing your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and other diseases.

Risk Factors That You Can't Control

While you may not be able to control these risk factors, making healthy changes to your lifestyle will significantly reduce the risk of you developing  heart disease prematurely.

Age

While heart disease can occur at any age, the risk for developing and dying from heart disease goes up with age. Generally, four out of five people who die from heart disease are aged 65 or older.

Race/Ethnicity

A person’s race or ethnicity shouldn’t put them more at risk for having heart disease, but unfortunately, it is a factor that affects a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke and their chances of survival as people of South Asian and African descent are said to be more at risk.

Gender

Men and women are equally at risk for heart disease, but men in general have more risk for having heart attacks and having them earlier in life. For women, risk increases as they approach menopause, continues to rise as they get older and they face a greater risk of dying from such events.

Family History

If you have a family history of heart disease, you might have a higher risk of developing conditions that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. So, it’s even more important to treat and control any other modifiable risk factors you have.