Many of the risk factors for heart disease are related to lifestyle and environmental factors and are typically labeled uncontrollable (non-modifiable) or controllable (modifiable). These can be conditions, personal traits and lifestyles that contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which causes coronary artery disease.
The seriousness of this disease can be seen in the fact that over 40% of all people in the United States who suffer a heart attack will die from its affects.
Heart disease, which is a term that includes several more specific heart conditions, is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The major forms of this most deadly of diseases include acute rheumatic fever, chronic rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, coronary heart disease, pulmonary heart disease, congestive heart failure and any other heart condition or disease.
It is, in simplistic terms, the inability of the heart to pump or receive adequate amounts of blood due to atherosclerosis or damage to the heart caused by infection or congenital defects. In fact heart disease and stroke both have the same risk factors and causes.
An estimated 25% of all Americans have one or more risk factors for heart disease, increasing their risk for heart attack. Most risk factors are related to lifestyle while other risk factors that cannot be changed include age, gender, and genetics.
Health behaviors associated with a high risk of heart disease include being physically inactive, eating a diet high in salt and saturated fat, and smoking tobacco. While you can’t control your age, gender, race, or family history, you can decrease your chances of developing heart disease by focusing on the lifestyle changes you can make to improve your overall health.
Leading a healthy lifestyle and following medical advice to reduce or remove risk factors is the best way to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Although heart disease takes on different specific forms, there are a common core of risk factors that influence whether someone will ultimately be at risk for heart disease or not.
There are many factors that can increase your risk of getting heart disease. Some of these factors are out of your control but most of them can be avoided by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle. Excess body fat is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease. Cholesterol levels are determined by a combination of age, gender, heredity, and dietary choices, and of these four factors, changing your diet to a healthier one is something you can do something about. High blood pressure combined with other risk factors such as being physically inactive, eating a diet high in salt and saturated fat, and smoking tobacco greatly increases your chances of getting heart disease as well. In some cases other factors such as stress and drinking too much alcohol have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, many risk factors for heart disease are caused in part by unhealthy lifestyle habits, which can be altered so as to reduce one’s chances of developing heart disease.