Rideout Health: 530.749.4300

Risk Factors for coronary heart disease

The more risk factors you have the greater your chance of developing heart disease or having a heart attack or stroke. Extensive studies have identified several factors that increase your risk. Some of them can be changed, treated or modified, and some cannot. Controlling these risk factors is the best way to a healthy heart.

Major Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease that Cannot be Changed

Increasing Age: About four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are age 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are twice as likely as men are to die from them within a few weeks.

Male Gender: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, they have attacks earlier in life.

Heredity: Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe hypertension than whites and their risk of heart disease is greater.

Major Risk Factors For Coronary Heart Disease that Can Be Treated.

You can change, treat or modify these factors to lower your risk by focusing on your lifestyle habits or, if needed, taking medicine.

Tobacco Smoke: Smokers' risk of heart attack is more than twice that of non-smokers. Cigarette smoking is the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death: Smokers have two to four times the risk of non-smokers. Smokers who have a heart attack are more likely to die and die suddenly than are non-smokers.

High Blood Cholesterol Levels: The risk of coronary heart disease and stroke rises as blood cholesterol levels increase. When other risk factors (such as high blood pressure and tobacco smoke) are present, this risk increases even more. Age, gender, heredity and diet also affect a person's cholesterol level.

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart's workload. It also increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. When high blood pressure exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases.

Physical Inactivity: Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise plays a significant role in preventing heart and blood vessel disease. Even moderate intensity physical activities are beneficial if done regularly. More vigorous activities are associated with more benefits. Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity and help to lower blood pressure.

Obesity and Overweight: People who have excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors. Obesity is unhealthy because excess weight increases the strain on the heart. It's directly linked with coronary heart disease because it influences blood pressure, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and makes diabetes more likely to develop. If you can lose as little as 10 to 20 pounds, you can lower your heart disease risk.

Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes seriously increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even when glucose levels are under control, diabetes seriously increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. If you have diabetes, it is critical you monitor and control other risk factors.

Courtesy of the American Heart Association.