Heart Disease

Risk Factors

Although these factors are not actual causes of heart disease, they do increase a person's chances of developing it. Risk factors for heart disease include:


(Click Heart Disease Risk to calculate your risk over the next 10 years.)

How Do You Know If You Have It?

Just because you have heart disease does not mean that you will experience symptoms. Plaque can be building up in your arteries with no symptoms. In fact, it usually takes many years of plaque buildup before symptoms appear. Symptoms generally appear when the coronary arteries have been sufficiently clogged to cause a reduction in blood flow to the heart. At this point, a person will experience  symptoms from clogged arteries.
The most common symptoms are:
  • Chest pain or discomfort (angina)
  • Pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Faster heartbeats
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Feeling very tired.
In some people, the first sign of heart disease is a heart attack (see Heart Attack Symptoms).
Written by/reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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