Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease

Heart Health Center in Yuba-Sutter

Heart disease often takes lives without warning, which is part of why it is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. However, that does not mean you are helpless to defend yourself from a heart attack or stroke. Some heart disease risk factors are unchangeable, but there are many lifestyle and diet habits you can incorporate into your day-to-day routine to manage the more variable risk factors.

Heart disease risk factors that cannot be changed include:

  • Genetics – If one of your parents has had a heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure or problems with heart disease, you will also be at an increased risk and should keep a close eye on your heart health. African Americans also have an increased risk of developing severe hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Gender – Men are statistically more likely to develop heart disease than women, and they typically develop it at a younger age. However, heart disease is also the number one cause of death for women in the U.S. Paying attention to heart health is important for everyone.
  • Age – Most people who die from heart disease are 65 or older.

Risk factors you can control:

  • Blood pressure – High blood pressure, also called hypertension, increases your risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Your doctor can measure your blood pressure or you can a home-test kit from at certain pharmacies. Blood pressure can be regulated with diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes.
  • Smoking tobacco – In addition to the damage they do on your lungs, cigarettes can wreak having to your cardiovascular system as well. Smoking cigarettes is also the biggest risk factor for sudden cardiac death.
  • Cholesterol levels – The body uses cholesterol to patch up weak spots in the lining of the arteries. However, too much cholesterol can create obstructions in the veins, which is called artery plaque. Artery plaque can eventually lead to a blood clot, which can lead to serious and sometimes fatal health complications. Your doctor can monitor your cholesterol level and you can make changes to your diet as needed to keep it at a good place.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – If you’re not exercising or moving around throughout the day, you are increasing your risk for heart disease. Doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise at least 5 days a week. This does not have to be done in one burst—breaking it up to 10 or 15-minute installments throughout the day can also be effective.
  • Obesity – Being overweight increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. If you are overweight, it is important you lose weight in healthy ways rather than jumping onto fad diets. Discuss your body weight with your doctor for their thoughts on your weight’s influence on your heart and what you can do to reduce risk factors.
  • Diabetes – While you can’t get rid of diabetes, you can control it. People with diabetes are more likely to develop cardiovascular problems. So long as you maintain proper diabetes care and monitor your heart and vascular health, you should be able to prevent these issues.

If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, the experienced and skilled cardiologists of Adventist Health and Rideout can help. The Adventist Health and Rideout Heart Center is located in Marysville, and you can contact us at (530) 749-4458.