Risk Factors

When it comes to reducing your risk factors for heart and vascular disease, it is essential to know what those risk factors are, and the steps that you can take to make meaningful changes to your lifestyle and health. The good news is that, for most cardiovascular disease risk factors, small improvements can go a long way. Simply make the changes which best fit you and your life! Assess your health and the factors that contribute to it, determine what positive changes you can make, and begin on your journey to better heart health.

Body Weight

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s especially true if you have another risk factor, such as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, lack of physical activity or if you smoke.


When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood. Over time, this can cause greater deposits of plaque in the arteries, which, in turn, leads to blockages in the blood vessels and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Physical Activity

Regular, moderate-intensity aerobic activity can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Physical activity lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. If you have heart disease, physical activity may be an important part of your recovery and maintenance.


Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Any amount of smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells, the structure and function of your blood vessels and the function of your heart.


Too much or unmanaged stress can harm your health. Chronic stress is especially harmful, and its effects are long-lasting. People with a high degree of unmanaged stress are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as people with low levels of stress.


Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure, a common condition occurring in one in three Americans. If blood pressure remains high over time, it can cause serious health problems.


Hyperlipidemia occurs when there are too many lipids—or fats— in the blood. For most people, hyperlipidemia means high cholesterol and/or high triglycerides.


Nutrition can play a significant role in helping to prevent heart disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, eating a heart-healthy diet can help lower your LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and triglycerides.

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