Risk Factors for Heart Disease
While certain heart disease risk factors cannot be controlled (such as a family history of early heart disease), there are several that you can control. Examples of risk factors you can do something about include smoking, having high blood pressure, being overweight, and having high cholesterol. Furthermore, the more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing heart disease.
Heart Disease Risk Factors: An Introduction
About 13 million people in the United States have coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease, or just CAD). It is the number one killer of women as well as men. Each year, more than a half-million Americans die from coronary heart disease.
Specific Risk Factors for Heart Disease
There are factors that make it more likely that you will develop coronary heart disease. These are called risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors that you cannot control include:
- Age and gender. As you get older, your risk for coronary heart disease increases. In men, risk increases beginning at age 45. In women, risk increases at 55 years of age.
- Family history of early heart disease. This includes heart disease diagnosed before age 55 in your father or brother or heart disease diagnosed before age 65 in your mother or sister.
Risk factors that you can do something about 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)
- Cigarette smoking (see Smoking and Heart Disease)
- Diabetes (see Diabetes and Heart Disease)
- Being overweight or obese (see BMI Calculator to find your ideal weight or click Obesity and Heart Disease)
- Lack of physical activity (see Heart Disease and Exercise).
The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances for developing coronary heart disease.