World Heart Day 2017

Risk factors

Risk factors can be modifiable or non-modifiable. The risk factors are often interrelated and rarely occur alone. Non-modifiable risk factors include increasing age, genetic factors, and ethnic background (Asians and Blacks are at increased risk compared to Whites, for example).

However, most risk factors are related to lifestyle and these can be modified. The most important behavioral risk factors of cardiovascular disease are physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and tobacco use. Many cases of cardiovascular disease can be prevented by altering these risk factors. Smoking, for example, can and should be completely avoided.

Diabetes is another strong factor that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerosis. Unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and obesity all increase the risk to develop type 2 diabetes.

Due to genetic factors, women over 65 are at more risk to develop hypertension, but until the age of 45, men are more likely to have hypertension. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between body weight and high blood pressure. Physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet also increase your risk, and smoking and even stress may contribute to hypertension.