Atherosclerosis Risk Factors

The more atherosclerosis risk factors you have, the greater your risk for the disease. Some risk factors, such as a family history of early heart disease, cannot be controlled, but most can be managed or treated. Examples of risk factors for atherosclerosis you have control over include having high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, cigarette smoking, and a lack of physical activity.

Atherosclerosis Risk Factors: An Introduction

Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase your chances of getting a certain disease. For atherosclerosis, the risk factors happen to be the same as for heart disease.
Just like risk factors for heart disease, some atherosclerosis risk factors can be treated or controlled and some cannot. Also, the more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of developing atherosclerosis. That's because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects. Finally, the higher your level of each risk factor, the greater your risk of developing atherosclerosis.

Common Atherosclerosis Risk Factors

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:

Uncontrollable Atherosclerosis Risk Factors

The atherosclerosis risk factors you can do nothing about include:
  • Increasing age. The risk of atherosclerosis increases with age. Men ages 45 and older have increased risk, as do women ages 55 and older. It is thought that female hormones help protect women from atherosclerosis before menopause. After menopause, women have atherosclerosis as often as men do.
  • Family history. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to get atherosclerosis.
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