Heart Disease Risk Factors
Conditions or behaviors that increase a person's chances of developing heart disease are called risk factors. Some cannot be controlled (such as age or a family history of early heart disease); however, many can be controlled. For example, risk factors for heart disease you can control include having high blood pressure, having high cholesterol, smoking, and physical inactivity.
An Overview of Heart Disease Risk Factors
Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase your chance of getting a certain disease. This article discusses risk factors for heart disease (also called coronary artery disease or just CAD). There are different types of risk factors for other cardiovascular diseases, but these are not discussed here.
Some risk factors can be treated or controlled, and some cannot. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of developing heart disease. That's because risk factors tend to "gang up" and worsen each other's effects. Also, the higher your level of each risk factor, the greater your chance of developing heart disease.
The best way to prevent coronary artery disease is to:
- Know your heart disease risk factors
- Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors
- Take steps to manage the ones you can control.
Specific Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Heart disease risk factors include:
- Age (risk increases with age)
- Having close relatives with heart disease at younger ages
- Having high cholesterol (also known as hypercholesterolemia)
- Having high blood pressure (also called hypertension)
- Having diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- A lack of physical activity (see Heart Disease and Exercise)
- Cigarette smoking (see Smoking and Heart Disease).