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What is Heart Disease?
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›› Heart Disease Risk Factors
Risk Factors (Part II)
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Heart Disease

Heart Disease Risk Factors

The exact causes of heart disease are yet elusive to mankind. However, certain factors have been identified that increase the likelihood of developing a heart disease. These are known as risk factors. The key risk factors include:

The Age

The risk of developing coronary heart disease increases with age, since arteries naturally become less elastic as we age, often leading to a greater risk of high blood pressure.


Coronary heart disease causes more deaths in women than any other disease. This is because the female sex hormone, oestrogen, protects against coronary heart disease during the reproductive years by creating a more favorable balance of blood fats and by contributing to the elasticity and health of the arteries. However, after the menopause this natural protection can disappear.

Warning Signs:
Smoking and contraceptive pills increases your risk of heart attack and clotting problems such as thrombosis.

Genetic Factors

A person with a family history of coronary heart disease or factors predisposing to heart disease such as high cholesterol levels (familial hyperlipidaemia) or high blood pressure, is more at risk of developing it himself.

Obesity and Other Weight Related Problems

Being overweight increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Overweight people are more likely to develop diabetes, have high blood cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have none of the other risk factors.


A person with diabetes is three times more likely to develop coronary heart disease. They are also more likely to have silent ischemia because diabetes can affect the nerves that send pain messages.

Your level of activity

Lack of activity also decreases your body's ability to extract oxygen from your blood, weakens your bones (leading to a risk of osteoporosis) and your muscles, and encourages high cholesterol levels.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood in your arteries and is determined by how hard your heart works and your blood vessels. High blood pressure (or hypertension) is when the pressure is persistently higher than it should be (above 140/90), causing increased strain on your arteries.

For more heart disease risk factors, see the next page.

‹‹ Causes of Heart Disease Risk Factors (Part II) ››

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