Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CHD is also called coronary artery disease. Risk factors are things that increase you chance of getting a disease or condition. This article discusses the risk factors for heart disease and things you can do to lessen your risk.
What is a Risk Factor?
A risk factor is something about you that increases your chance of getting a disease or having a certain health condition. Some risk factors for heart disease you cannot change, but some you can. Changing the risk factors that you have control over may help you live a longer, healthier life.
Risk Factors you Cannot Change
Some of your heart disease risks that you CANNOT change are:
Your age. Risk of heart disease increases with age.
Your sex. Men have a higher risk of getting heart disease than women who are still menstruating. After menopause, the risk for women gets closer to the risk for men.
Your genes or race. If your parents had heart disease, you are at higher risk. African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans also have a higher risk for heart problems.
Risk Factors you can Change
Some of the risks for heart disease that you CAN change are:
Not smoking. If you do smoke, quit.
Controlling your cholesterol through diet, exercise, and medicines.
Arnett DK, Blumenthal RS, Albert MA, Buroker AB, et al. 2019 ACC/AHA guideline on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019;10;74(10):e177-e232. PMID: 30894318 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30894318/.
Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC Guidelines on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2960-2984. PMID: 24239922 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24239922/.
Genest J, Libby P. Lipoprotein disorders and cardiovascular disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 48.
Ridker PM, Libby P, Buring JE. Risk markers and primary prevention of coronary heart disease. In: Zipes DP, Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Tomaselli GF, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 45.
Micaela Iantorno, MD MSc FAHA RPVI, Interventional Cardiologist at Mary Washington Hospital Center, Fredericksburg, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.