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What increases my risk for coronary heart disease?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Your risk for coronary heart disease is a combination of hereditary and lifestyle factors. African-Americans and Latinos, men over 45, women over 55, and individuals with a family history of heart disease are at the greatest risk. Lifestyle factors include high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (also known as "bad cholesterol"), diabetes, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. The presence of multiple factors can compound and make your overall condition worse. For example, obesity can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure.

Some individuals develop coronary heart disease without any traditional risk factors. Scientists are researching whether elevated levels of some proteins and amino acids can indicate the presence of atherosclerosis, and thus be considered risk factors.

If you are a man under age 40 or a woman who has not yet gone through menopause, you probably do not have coronary artery disease (CAD) to any great extent. However, the likelihood increases as you age. The risk also is higher if you smoke; have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels; lead a sedentary lifestyle; eat an unhealthy diet; or have a family history of heart disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.