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What are the Different Cardiovascular Risk Factors?

Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are two categories of cardiovascular risk factors: passive and active risks. Cardiovascular risk is the chance of experiencing a failure of the cardiovascular system, due to cardiovascular or related diseases. Symptoms of these diseases include heart attacks, strokes, and circulation issues.

Passive risks are items that you cannot control. There are three types of passive cardiovascular risk factors: heredity, age, and gender. People with a family history of heart disease, stroke, or heart attack are at an increased risk for cardiovascular issues. Almost 85% of people with cardiovascular disease are 65 years or older. Men have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease than women.

Active cardiovascular risk factors are items that you can control. There are six types of active risks: smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes. Each of these factors can be controlled through changes in lifestyle and using prescription medication. Even a small change can provide great benefits to reduce your overall cardiovascular disease risk.

Smokers have four times the risk of heart disease as non-smokers. If a smoker has a cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, their chance of survival is half that of non-smokers. Smokers also tend to have other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and obesity at a higher rate than non-smokers do.

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High cholesterol and blood pressure are interrelated diseases. Cholesterol narrows the arteries and passageways for the blood to flow. High blood pressure increases the level of effort required by the heart, causing the muscles to thicken. Both diseases can be managed with a combination of prescription medication and lifestyle changes.

Physical inactivity and obesity work hand in hand to increase your cardiovascular risk. A daily walk of at least 30 minutes, five times a week, combined with healthy eating will increase your level of activity and decrease your weight. Healthy eating includes more fruits and vegetables and less processed and packaged foods.

Many people resist making these lifestyle changes because they feel it must be a complete change to be effective. This is not the case. Minor changes can make an impact over time. Make physical activity something fun and social to encourage participation.

People with diabetes have a significantly increased cardiovascular risk. This risk is lower for people who have controlled blood sugar levels, but it is critical for these patients to reduce all other cardiovascular risk factors. Almost 75% of diabetes patients die from a cardiovascular disease.

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