Risk Factors for Heart disease


About risk factors: Risk factors for Heart disease are factors that do not seem to be a direct cause of the disease, but seem to be associated in some way. Having a risk factor for Heart disease makes the chances of getting a condition higher but does not always lead to Heart disease. Also, the absence of any risk factors or having a protective factor does not necessarily guard you against getting Heart disease. For general information and a list of risk factors, see the risk center.

Risk factor list: The list of risk factors mentioned for Heart disease in various sources includes:

Risk factor statistics for Heart disease: The following are statistics from various sources about the risk factors for Heart disease:

  • Physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease (World Heart Federation Fact-Sheet, 2002)

Risk factors discussion: Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times as high as those of adults without diabetes.1

What damages my heart and blood vessels?

  • Having high blood sugar.

  • Having high blood pressure.

  • Smoking cigarettes.

  • Having high blood cholesterol (kuh-LES-ter-all) and other abnormal blood fats.

  • Eating foods full of saturated fat and cholesterol.

  • Being overweight.

  • Not being active.

Risk factors are habits or traits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. Many of those for heart disease can be controlled. These include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Overweight
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes
The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk.3

Several recent studies have reported that moderate drinkers--those who have one or two drinks per day--are less likely to develop heart disease than people who don't drink any alcohol. If you are a nondrinker, this is not a recommendation to start using alcohol. And certainly, if you are pregnant or have another health condition that could make alcohol use harmful, you should not drink. But if you are already a moderate drinker, you may be less likely to have a heart attack. 3

Birth control pills have little increased risk of heart disease for women who have not gone through menopause (when periods stop). But, they do pose heart disease risks for some women, especially in women with high blood pressure and in women who smoke.4

Menopause may increase a womanís risk for heart disease, due to lower levels of estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by raising estrogen levels and reducing common symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats. While HRT can reduce risk for heart disease after menopause, it also may increase the risk of other diseases, such as breast cancer.

Recent studies have shown that women who have gone through menopause and who have heart disease, may have a greater risk of another cardiac event (like heart attack) after starting HRT, at least in the short-term. For women who have had strokes, their risk for having another stroke goes up when they start taking HRT. Because of these research findings, the American Heart Association recommends that women should not be given HRT to prevent heart disease, and that women with heart disease or who have had a stroke should not start taking hormones.

If you are taking birth control pills or HRT, watch for signs of trouble, such as abnormal bleeding, breast lumps, shortness of breath, dizziness, severe headaches, pain in your calves or chest, and report them to your health care provider right away. Also have, at the least, a yearly exam. Talk with your health care provider about whether hormones are right for you. 4

Many people who have had a heart attack are afraid that having sex will cause another attack. The risk of this is very low. Follow your doctorís advice. Most people can start having sex again 12 to 16 weeks after an attack. 5

Moderate drinking can have beneficial effects on the heart, especially among those at greatest risk for heart attacks, such as men over the age of 45 and women after menopause. But long-term heavy drinking increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some kinds of stroke. 6

Risks factors for Heart disease: medical news summaries: The following medical news items are relevant to risk factors for Heart disease:

1. excerpt from Diabetes Statistics in the United States: NIDDK
2. excerpt from Keep your heart and blood vessels healthy: NIDDK
3. excerpt from NHLBI Heart Disease & Women Are You At Risk: NHLBI
5. excerpt from Sexuality Later in Life - Age Page - Health Information: NIA
6. excerpt from Alcohol What You Don't Know Can Harm You: NIAAA

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