Breaking Down Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Heart Disease: Some heart disease risk factors are non-modifiable, like a person’s age or family history (genetics cannot be changed). Other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, can be changed by lifestyle modifications.

Keeping an eye on your risk factors is important. But which ones should you focus on? Some of the factors shared by IHLD Delhi Heart hospital.


Heart disease can happen at any age, but the risk increases as we get older. A heart attack or stroke happens when a blockage stops blood flow to the heart or brain. This can be caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries or clots that break away and travel to the heart or lungs.

You can’t change your age, but you can take steps to prevent heart disease. Getting regular check-ups, controlling your cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, not smoking and eating healthily can help lower your risk.

Some people are at higher risk of developing heart disease, such as those with a family history of the condition, those who are post-menopausal, or those from certain ethnic backgrounds. You can speak to your GP about this when you book in for a Heart Health Check, or earlier if you have any concerns.

Behavioral risk factors, such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco and harmful alcohol use, have also been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Health policies that make it easier for people to adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their risk factors are important. This is the only way to bring down the number of heart attacks and strokes in our community. Health professionals are urging all Australians to talk to their GP about the risks of heart disease and to book in for a Heart Health Check if they haven’t already done so.

Family History

A person’s family medical history can provide valuable clues about conditions that tend to run in families, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers. However, a family health history is just one factor among many that contribute to these disorders. Most health conditions develop because of a combination of genetic factors, environmental conditions and lifestyle choices.

The good news is that even if heart disease runs in your family, you can reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by eating healthy, exercising regularly and abstaining from smoking. There are also screening tests available that can help identify potential problems, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Although it can be difficult to discuss a family medical history, it’s important for people to be aware of the risk factors they can change and those that are beyond their control. For example, a person’s age, their sex and whether they are post-menopausal all increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. But they can reduce these risks by changing their diet, exercise habits and smoking behavior and by being more active with routine screenings such as mammograms or colorectal cancer screenings.

This can greatly lower their risk of disease by catching it at an early stage, when it’s more treatable. Also, people can reduce their risk for disease that is genetic in origin by taking medicines such as aspirin or statins if prescribed by their doctor.

High Blood Pressure (Heart Disease}

High blood pressure, or hypertension, happens when the force of blood on your artery walls is higher than it should be. Over time, it can damage arteries, which increases your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

It’s important to know that everyone can develop heart disease and that there are many things you can do to help reduce your risk, including eating a healthy diet, being physically active, managing your weight, avoiding smoking and drinking too much alcohol, and taking medication as prescribed. But the first step is knowing whether you have high blood pressure. The best way is to get your blood pressure checked regularly, either by visiting a pharmacy or at home with a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure monitor). A normal reading should be less than 130/80 mm Hg.

If you have a high blood pressure reading, it means that your artery walls are under too much pressure, especially when the heart is beating. This is usually a sign of long-term, untreated hypertension. You may not feel any symptoms, which is why it’s important to keep up with regular medical check-ups and take your medication as prescribed.

There are both non-modifiable and modifiable factors that can raise your risk for high blood pressure, such as age and family history. You can lower your risk by making positive changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, limiting your salt intake and exercising regularly.


Smoking damages nearly every organ of the body. It increases an individual’s risk of heart disease, cancer, lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory problems such as tuberculosis. It also makes your blood vessels narrow and stiff, which reduces the amount of oxygen they can carry.

Nicotine, the main ingredient in cigarette smoke, makes your heart rate increase and tightens major arteries. It can also cause irregularities in the timing of your heartbeat and high blood pressure. And carbon monoxide, a chemical found in tobacco smoke, prevents the blood from carrying enough oxygen to your organs.

Regardless of your age or whether or not you have other risk factors, it’s never too late to start improving your heart health. Talk to your healthcare professional about how you can reduce or control the risk factors that are within your control, such as smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.

By eliminating or controlling those that you can, you can significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Remember, knowledge is power. By identifying those risk factors that you can change, you are able to take steps toward living a longer and healthier life. The best way to do that is to talk with a medical professional about the risks you face and the best ways to manage them.

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