A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop CAD with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing CAD. Some risk factors can't be changed, but many can. Talk to your doctor about how you can reduce the number of risk factors you have.
Certain lifestyle factors may increase your risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to CAD. These include:
- Physical inactivity—Contributes to an increase in weight, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other heart-related risk factors.
- Smoking—Includes cigarettes, cigars, and second hand smoke. Smoking causes damage by narrowing blood vessels, increasing the risk of blood clots, and decreasing the amount of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood.
- A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and/or caloriesIncreased fats in the diet are directly associated with the build up of arterial plaque.
- Excess alcohol intake—Contributes to high blood pressure and high triglycerides in the blood
These conditions put you are at greater risk of developing CAD:
- High blood pressure—Narrowing and hardening of the arteries reduces blood flow all over the body, including the heart.
- Lipid disorders—High cholesterol and/or triglycerides in the blood contribute to plaque build up in the arteries.
- Diabetes—People who have diabetes are at increased risk of CAD. They often have other conditions that increase their risk of CAD, such as high cholesterol and increased weight.
- Obesity and overweight—Excess weight puts you at higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome—A condition is marked by elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight. Excess weight centered around the midsection is of particular concern.
- Chronic stress—Contributes to high blood pressure, depression, and may contribute to making poor decisions that affect your health, such as smoking.
- Depression—It is not known how depression and CAD are linked, but depression does affect overall mental and physical well being. Fatigue or disinterest can lead you to make poor decisions about your health, such as ignoring treatment plans that reduce your risk of heart diseases.
Genetics are believed to play a role in risk factors that lead to CAD. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other conditions are tied to your family history. The risk increases when combined with other unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Men tend to develop atherosclerosis earlier the women. However, a woman’s risk increases with the onset ofmenopause.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women.
Certain Blood Test Results
Recent research has found an association between levels of certain amino acids or proteins in the blood and the risk of developing CAD. These include:
- C-reactive protein
Clinicians have not yet recommended widespread screening for these levels since they are not sure that these tests will add benefit to those already in place for the general population. Talk to your doctor to see if these blood tests will benefit you.
Your risk of CAD increases as you get older. Men older than 45 and women older than 55 (younger in cases of premature menopause) are at greater risk of heart disease.
Race and Ethnic Factors
African Americans have a higher incidence of hypertension than Caucasians and, therefore, a higher risk of developing CAD. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 09/2013 -
- Update Date: 00/12/2014 -