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

Risk Factors (Part II)

On a previous page, we listed a few heart disease risk factors. More risk factors are outlined below:

Your cholesterol

The higher the blood cholesterol level, the higher the risk of coronary heart disease, particularly if it is combined with any of the other risk factors. Diet is one cause of high cholesterol - others are age, sex and family history.


If you are under 50 and you smoke, you are five times more likely to die of coronary heart disease than a non-smoker. Nicotine triggers the release of the stress hormone adrenalin, which raises your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your heart's need for oxygen. Carbon monoxide, found in tobacco smoke, displaces oxygen from your bloodstream - depriving your heart of oxygen.

Alcohol and Drug abuse

Drinking an average of more than one drink a day for women or more than two drinks a day for men increases the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the effect on blood pressure, weight and levels of triglycerides - a type of fat carried in the blood.

The use of certain drugs, particularly cocaine and those taken intravenously, has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Raised Homocysteine Levels

Some people with coronary heart disease have raised levels of an amino acid called homocysteine. Raised homocysteine levels are thought to damage the lining of arteries, a crucial step in the development of atherosclerosis. They have also been found to be a factor in the oxidation of cholesterol and also appear to increase blood clotting.


Some links have been made between stress and coronary artery disease. This could be because it encourages people to eat more, start smoking or smoke more than they would otherwise have done.

‹‹ Heart Disease Risk Factors Risk Reduction ››

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