Heart Disease Risk Factors

Heart disease has many aspects, including:

  • Types of heart problems
  • Heart disease risk factors (this page)
  • Heart disease prevention
  • Heart disease symptoms
  • Heart disease treatments

A high, or at least an increased, risk of heart disease is associated with many aspects of 'modern' lifestyles ('lifestyle factors') and with some medical conditions.

Heart disease risk factors can be listed in categories such as:

  • Lifestyle factors
    i.e. things that are due to choices made by the individual such as smoking, diet and exercise)
  • Medical conditions
    ... some of which might also be associated with 'lifestyle risk factors', e.g. diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Unavoidable risk factors
    i.e. heart disease risk factors you cannot control, such as age, gender etc.


The following are listed in no particular order within categories; different risk factors affect different people in different ways.

Lifestyle factors

  1. *High blood cholesterol level and high levels of triglyceride in the blood
    - a lifestyle factor if due to diet rather than to the effects of a medical condition or treatment
  2. Cigarette smoking
  3. *Obesity
    - a lifestyle factor if due to diet & exercise choices rather than due to the effects of a medical condition such as hypothyroidism, or due to the effects of essential prescribed medication. See causes of obesity.
  4. *Excessive stress and anger, i.e. failure to respond to 'everyday' challenges without adverse physical manifestations - which may or may not be apparent to other people. As stress is sometimes treated medically it might also be considered a 'medical condition'.
  5. Insufficient regular exercise (exercise regimes such be safe and appropriate for the person's physical condition)

Medical Conditions

  1. *High blood pressure (Hypertension)
    - could also be listed as a 'lifestyle factor' because certain lifestyle choices are risk factors for hypertension.
  2. *Diabetes and prediabetes
    - could also be listed as a 'lifestyle factor' because some lifestyle choices are risk factors for diabetes.
    However, not all forms or cases of diabetes can be attributed to lifestyle choices.

Unavoidable Risk Factors

(in addition to those associated with unavoidable medical conditions)

  1. Age
    Risk of heart diseases increases with age - until about age 45-50 in men and age 60-65 in women.
  2. Gender
    Men are at greater risk of heart disease than pre-menopausal women.
  3. Race
    E.g. data from the USA suggests that that African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans have a higher risk of heart disease than Caucasian Americans.
  4. Family history of heart disease

* These risk factors could be included in different categories depending on the cause of condition in any particular case.

A list of risk factors for heart disease can lead to suggestions for "reducing the risk of heart disease" or "managing the risk of heart disease", neither of which amount to "preventing heart disease".

Example Question: Re. Risk of Heart Disease:

  1. State five factors that a person might have some ability to influence and that increase the risk of heart disease.
  2. For each risk factor suggest how to reduced one's risk of heart disease
    (or maintain a low risk regarding that particular risk factor).

(a) 5 Risk factors for heart disease


High blood cholesterol level


Cigarette smoking
especially heavy smoking on a regular, or even continuous 'chain smoking', basis.


Obesity (for more about this see what is obesity? and health risks of obesity)


High (excessive) stress levels, i.e. emotional pressures that invoke sensations of worry, performance anxiety and similar. Can include anger & persistent frustration.


Insufficient regular exercise,
appropriate exercise can have many health benefits

(b) to reduce risk of heart disease,
or maintain low risk


Eat healthy foods in appropriate quantities
(more info about that at what is a balanced diet?). Manage blood cholesterol level if necessary - if so seek professional advice and support, e.g. from a G.P..


Don't smoke. For those who already smoke, reduce (ideally discontinue) smoking cigarettes. For those who don't smoke, don't start smoking.


Maintain a healthy weight. If overweight, lose weight safely to reach a healthy weight for gender, height and age.


Manage stress levels. Different people achieve this in different ways, e.g. in many cases fresh air and healthy exercise can help to reduce stress. Other techniques include meditation, improving time management, or making other lifestyle changes e.g. re. responsibilities.


Take sufficient healthy exercise, ideally in an enjoyable form e.g. walking, cycling, swimming.

The text in bold is sufficient for complete short answers to this question.

The additional text and links are explanatory and maybe useful for discussion.

See also also types of heart problems, heart disease in the news and lifestyle factors associated with hypertension.

In the News:

Kale is in season in February - 7 Feb '20

AMA (USA) offers 6 tips for better heart health - 1 Feb '20

Reducing saturated fat in diet lowers blood cholesterol and risk of CVD - 1 Aug '19

Benefits of interval training for vascular health of older women - 7 Aug '17

AMA endorses 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines (USA) - 8 Jan '16

Vet charity warning about pet obesity - 25 Mar '15

Electrocardiogram (ECG) in ambulances save lives - 14 Apr '14

Mediterranean diet linked with lower risk of heart disease - 4 Feb '14

Certain angels are associated with 'passing-over' and our smooth transition from this life to the next ...

Although care has been taken when compiling this page, the information contained might not be completely up to date. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright. See terms of use.

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