Heart Disease Risk
A person's risk for heart disease refers to the likelihood of developing angina pectoris, having a heart attack, or dying from heart disease. Risk factors are things that increase a person's chances of developing a disease or health condition. Controllable heart disease risk factors include having high cholesterol, smoking, having high blood pressure, and being overweight.
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. In fact, when most people refer to heart disease, they are usually referring to coronary heart disease (as we will in this article). Heart disease occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked, which most often happens due to plaque buildup as a result of atherosclerosis. Heart disease can lead to symptoms like angina, or even a heart attack.
Several factors can increase a person's chance of developing heart disease. These are known as heart disease risk factors. While not causes of heart disease, these risk factors play a significant role in the likelihood of someone developing it. These heart disease risk factors are often separated into those that can be controlled and those that cannot.
Heart disease risk factors that can be controlled include:
- High cholesterol levels, also known as hypercholesterolemia (see Cholesterol and Heart Disease)
- High blood pressure, also known as hypertension (see Effects of High Blood Pressure)
- Diabetes (see Diabetes and Heart Disease)
- Smoking (see Smoking and Heart Disease)
- Being overweight (see BMI Calculator for your ideal weight; click Obesity and Heart Disease for more information)
- Being physically inactive (see Heart Disease and Exercise).
Heart disease risk factors that cannot be controlled include:
- Family history of early heart disease.