The majority of cardiovascular disease is caused by risk factors which can be treated, controlled or modified, such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, cholesterol level, overweight/obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and diabetes. However, there are also some major cardiovascular disease risk factors which cannot be controlled.
Modifiable risk factors
Hypertension is the single biggest risk factor for either heart attacks or stroke. In fact, it can be successfully treated and prevented but only if you have it diagnosed and stick to your suggested management program.
Abnormal blood lipid levels, which comprises of high levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. A diet high in saturated fat also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Switching to a healthy diet, exercise and medication can adjust your blood lipid to normal.
Tobacco use, whether it is chewing tobacco or smoking, increases risks of cardiovascular disease. The risk is specifically high when you started smoking at a young age; smoke heavily, or a female smoker. Passive smoking is also a risk factor for heart disease. Therefore, stopping tobacco use can significantly decrease your risk of having a cardiovascular problem, no matter how long you have smoked.
Physical inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%. Being overweight or obesity is also a major risk for cardiovascular disease and predisposes you to diabetes.
Diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, makes you twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular risk increases with raised blood glucose values. Lack of early detection and care for diabetes is the main cause of severe complications, including heart attacks, strokes, renal failure, amputations, and blindness.
Having poor mental health increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, some examples of which include a chronically stressful life, social isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Alcohol consumption. Having one to two alcohol drinks a day may reduce the risk of having heart disease by 30%, but alcohol consumption above this level will damage the heart muscle.
Certain medicines may increase the risk of heart disease, for example, the contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy.
Non-modifiable risk factors
Age. Cardiovascular disease becomes increasingly common along with advancing age. As a person gets older, the heart undergoes major physiologic changes, even in the absence of disease. When a condition like cardiovascular disease affects the heart, these age-related changes may compound the problem or its treatment.
Gender. Men are at greater risk of heart disease than pre-menopausal women. Once past the menopause, a woman’s risk is the same as a man’s. The risk of stroke, however, is similar for men and women.
Family’s history. The risk increases if a first-degree blood relative has had coronary heart disease or stroke before the age of 65 years (for a female relative) or 55 years (for a male relative).
Ethnicity. People with Asian or African ancestry are at greater risks of developing cardiovascular disease than other racial groups.
In general, the more risk factors you have, the greater is the likelihood that you will develop a cardiovascular disease unless you take action to adjust, control your risk factors and thus to prevent them compromising your heart health.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: March 10, 2017 | Last Modified: March 10, 2017
Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hd/atrisk. Accsesed January 19th, 2017.
Heart Disease Risk Factors. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/basics/risk-factors/con-20034056. Accessed January 19th, 2017.