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Heart Disease Risk Factors

Certain conditions increase your chances of developing heart disease. Some are considered major risk factors because the link to heart disease is well supported by research. Major risk factors for heart disease (other than age, gender and heredity) are:

  • Smoking
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Blood Cholesterol
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Diabetes

Stress and drinking alcohol are considered contributing risk factors for heart disease. The link between these two factors and heart disease is not as strong as the major risk factors listed above or the effect of these two factors is more variable among individuals.

Other Factors Related to Heart Disease

Other blood measurements are associated with heart disease. These measurements provide additional ways to assess heart disease risk, especially in individuals who are already at a high risk of heart disease. Although the American Heart Association does not currently consider them to be major risk factors, these blood tests include:

Triglycerides - Triglycerides are one type of fat that circulates in your blood. People with high blood triglycerides often have high cholesterol or other conditions that raise their risk for heart disease.

CRP - C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation found in the blood. Inflammation can be a result of smoking, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar. It also results infections of the body. Recent research has shown a link between chronic inflammation and heart disease.

Homocysteine - Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood. A high level of homocysteine in the blood is associated with certain heart diseases.

It's important to be aware of your risk for developing heart disease. Although you can't change some things that contribute to heart disease - your age, your gender, and your family history - the good news is that most of the major and contributing risk factors for heart disease can be improved through diet and lifestyle changes.


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