Risk Factors that Lead to Heart Diseases

Risk Factors that Lead to Heart Diseases

Of all the fatalities occurring globally that are attributable to diseases, CVD or cardiovascular disease(s) is the number 1 killer that accounted for nearly 17.5 million deaths (as per a WHO estimate) in 2012 or 31% of the total figure. Coronary heart disease and strokes represented the maximum number of deaths occurring from CVDs. The main cardiovascular diseases that affected the healthy functioning of the blood vessels and the heart are coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and cerebrovascular disease.  Any of the aforementioned CVDs can lead to a heart attack or stroke that can be fatalistic.

Risk Factors that Lead to Heart Diseases

A string of causative or risk factors are responsible for causing most of the CVDs including but not limited to hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, unbridled tobacco and alcohol use, and inadequate physical activity. These risk factors can be classified into three distinct categories-controllable or modifiable risk factors, uncontrollable risk factors, and supplementary risk factors.

Modifiable and treatable risk factors

  1. Tobacco use-It doesn’t need to be emphasized that those who take tobacco (in any form) are always at a greater risk of developing a CVD compared to a nonsmoker. And those smokers who’ve already been diagnosed with CVD run the risk of dying from a sudden or unexpected cardiac attack. Even passive smokers are vulnerable to contracting heart disease from tobacco smoke. Your chances of suffering from heart disease go up if you’re exposed to other risk factors (in combination with smoking).

Fast facts

  • 10% of all CVD deaths happen due to excessive smoking
  • Heavy smokers, young men, and female smokers are more susceptible to CVD
  • The chances of contracting CVD goes down considerably within two years of having given up smoking
  1. Hypertension-When you’re hypertensive, the blood in the arteries tends to flow at a higher pressure making the cardiac muscles work more forcefully. The continuous overstraining of your heart weakens the organ adversely affecting its functionality thereby putting you at enhanced risks of suffering from strokes or heart attacks. If you’re obese, diabetic, or have high cholesterol, the risks multiply.

Fast Facts

  • Hypertension is the major cause of CVD globally
  • Almost 1 billion people suffer from HBP
  1. High blood cholesterol-You’ve a far greater chance of developing coronary heart disease if you’ve a high blood cholesterol than without it. The cholesterol level in your blood is measured by evaluating the HDL, LDL and triglycerides levels. Low LDL and triglyceride scores and high HDL scores are conducive for your heart health.

Fast Facts

  • High cholesterol accounts for 2.6 million CVD deaths
  • High cholesterol causes 1/3rd of all ischemic heart conditions
  1. Physically Inactive-Moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least half an hour every day greatly improves circulation of blood and lets one keep high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension under control. Regular exercises or workouts also go a long way in preventing you from getting overweight or obese. Keeping yourself active physically also aids in keeping the heart working healthily.

Fast Facts

  • Inadequate physical activity was the 4th leading risk aspect that caused deaths
  • Approximately 3.2 million die every year due to too little physical activity
  • Physically inactive individuals have at least 20-30% chance of dying prematurely compared to those engaged in physical activity daily for nothing less than half an hour
  1. Diabetes or high blood glucose-Diabetes mellitus patients are also extremely vulnerable to getting inconvenienced or dying prematurely owing to strokes or heart attacks. Though the risks multiply if you don’t take steps to control your high blood glucose level, an element of risk is always there even if you’re very particular about controlling diabetes.

Fast Facts

  • Diabetes is the prime risk factor behind 60% of all CVD deaths
  • Failure to detect diabetes early on and insufficient monitoring leads to disastrous complications and consequences including but not limited to blindness, amputations, renal failure, strokes, and heart attacks
  1. Obesity-Obese or overweight people are increasingly prone to developing diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol thereby rendering them exposed to heart disease. Obese people find it extremely difficult to shed excessive flab that usually buildup around the waist. However, even losing 3-5% of the excessive body weight can help alleviate the associated risk factors of CVDs.

Fast Facts

  • Nearly 2.8 million deaths occur worldwide that can be attributed to obesity
  • Higher proportion of the population in developed countries (with higher disposable incomes) is obese compared to the percentage in under developed or developing countries
  1. Unhealthy diets-People who tended to consume foods laden with saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and carbohydrates were susceptible to developing CVDs. On the other hand, people whose regular diets included more of vegetables, fruits, fishes, and food items made from whole-grains were liable to developing heart disease at a much older age.

heart disease risk factors


Uncontrollable factors

Unfortunately, there are some inherent risk factors attributable to CVDs that are beyond your control. These are factors that were passed on to you while you were conceived and there’s nothing you can do to change them. Therefore it becomes imperative for you to monitor and control the modifiable risk factors.


Regardless of your level of fitness and state of health, you cannot stay young forever. Your risk of getting inflicted with coronary heart disease increases correspondingly with age. Most of the men and women who die from CVDs happen to be in the sixties and older.

Sex or Gender

Older men are more prone to getting bogged down by and dying from heart attacks than women (in the same age bracket).

Genetic or hereditary

If either or both of your parents have a history of heart disease, then your odds of developing a heart condition are quite high. From the viewpoint of ethnicity, African Americans are more vulnerable to heart disease in comparison to Caucasians. American Indians, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and native Hawaiians are also bracketed in the high risk zone. In order to considerably reduce heart attack risks, you should consider giving up smoking (in case you do), exercise for half an hour every day, consume more fruits and vegetables, take meals on time, reduce consumption of processed foods, and lead a disciplined lifestyle.