A risk factor is something about you that increases your chance of getting a disease or having a certain health condition. Some risk factors for heart disease you cannot change, but some you can. Changing the risk factors that you have control over will help you live a longer, healthier life.
Risk Factors You Cannot Change
Some of the things about you that increase your risk of getting heart disease that you CANNOT change are:
Your age. Risk of heart disease increases with age.
Your gender. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women who are still menstruating. After menopause, the risk for women gets closer to the risk for men.
Your genes or race. If your parents had heart disease, you are at higher risk. African-Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk for heart problems.
Risk Factors You Can Change
Some of the risks for heart disease that you CAN change are:
Follow these guidelines and the advice of your doctor to lower your chances of developing heart disease.
Gaziano M, Manson JE, Ridker PM. Primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Braunwald E, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 8th ed. Saunders; 2007:chap 45.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.