Risk factors of heart disease

There are several different factors that contribute to the risk of getting heart disease. Some are unavoidable, while some can be reduced by choosing a healthy lifestyle.

Unchangeable risk factors

  • Age
    The chance of getting a heart attack increases with age as it causes death to most people over 65 years old.
  • Gender
    Men have a higher risk of heart attacks compared to women.
  • Family history
    Parents who had a heart attack/stroke are more likely to pass on the disease to their children. However, this also depends on their lifestyle, as not all heart attacks are genetically caused.

Changeable risk factors

  • Smoking
    The biggest single risk factor for heart attack. Besides also causing cancer, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen supplied to the blood and damages the artery walls. It also causes blood cells to form a clump, making blockages more common.
  • High cholesterol
    A high total of cholesterol in the body causes fatty substance to build up in arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through, thus increase the risk of heart attacks.
  • High blood pressure
    The pressure of the blood in arteries varies throughout the day, depending on the time. However, if blood pressure is consistently high, it can overload the heart and arteries and speed up the artery-clogging process, leading to heart attack and stroke.
  • Diabetes
    People with high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance are prone to having heart attacks, as it increases the amount of plaque that forms within the walls of blood vessels due to excess sugar, limiting oxygen flow.
  • Unhealthy diet / obesity
    A person’s food intake determines ones weight gain, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Carrying extra weight, especially around the waist area, on top of an imbalanced diet will lead to a higher risk of heart diseases.

Consult with a doctor if you notice any of the symptoms above and about ways to reduce your risk. Learn more about Regency’s Heart & Lung Centre.

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