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What Factors Increase the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several factors that can increase a person's risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and being overweight. Additional risks include smoking, diabetes, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Those who live with chronic stress, anxiety, or depression may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular check-ups by a doctor can often help to identify any potential risk factors before serious damage to the heart occurs. Any questions or concerns about individual risk of cardiovascular disease should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Hypertension, also referred to as high blood pressure, presents a relatively high risk of cardiovascular disease. In many cases, hypertension remains undiagnosed for months or years, increasing the chances of damage to the circulatory system. Prescription medications and lifestyle modification can often help control blood pressure levels and prevent heart disease.

Poor dietary habits can lead to excess weight as well as complications such as high cholesterol levels or diabetes. Those who lead sedentary lifestyles or do not get enough physical exercise are prone to developing a variety of health issues as well. These issues increase a person's risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular doctor visits, healthy eating habits, and a moderate exercise program may help to reduce these risks. Studies have shown that smoking and other nicotine use may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mental and emotional distress or anxiety may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially among those who possess other risk factors as well. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation may help to prevent the constant internal conflict and tension that tends to cause chronic health issues. In some cases, psychological counseling or the use of prescription medications may be recommended by a doctor in order to treat any underlying conditions.

Some medications, especially those used as birth control or hormone replacement therapy, are known to increase the chances of developing cardiovascular problems. An often overlooked risk factor is merely getting older, as all bodily functions decline as a person ages. Genetic factors may play a role in the development of heart disease if several members of the same family have been diagnosed. Generally, men have a higher risk of developing heart disease than younger women, although the chances level out once a woman reaches menopause. Any potential risk factors for heart disease should be discussed with a doctor so that an individualized plan of prevention can be implemented.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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