Friday, April 17, 2009

10 Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Some risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, and some can't. According to the American Heart Association , these are the leading factors that put you at risk for coronary artery disease or a heart attack .
  • Age:
    More than 83% of people who die from coronary heart disease are 65 or older. Older women are more likely to die of heart attacks within a few weeks of the attack than older men.

  • Being male:
    Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life. Even after menopause , when women's death rate from heart disease increases, it's not as great as men's.
  • Family history.
    Those with parents or close relatives with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.

  • Race:
    Heart disease risk is higher among African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans compared to Caucasians.

  • Smoking:
    Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times.

  • High cholesterol:
    As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.

  • High blood pressure:
    High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer. It also increases your 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 several times.

  • Sedentary lifestyle.
    Inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.

  • Excess weight:
    People who have excess body fat—especially if a lot of it is at the waist—are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors.

  • Diabetes:
    Having diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.