Coronary heart disease literally means disease in the coronary arteries that supply the heart with oxygen. When a person experiences coronary heart disease they may have several signs and symptoms. But before those symptoms occur other risk factors have to be in place.
What factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease have been the topic of research studies for many years. As we become more knowledgeable about the risk factors we can decrease the risk of heart disease and discover ways to more adequately treat it.
Some extensive clinical studies have found what factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. There are major risk factors and others, which have some significance and prevalence but aren’t as strongly linked to the development of heart disease.
There are some causes or risk factors that can’t be changed such as your gender, increasing age or your race. Over 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are over the age of 65. Men have a greater risk than women and have attacks earlier in life. People of African American descent have more severe high blood pressure and are at higher risk of heart disease than Caucasians. Heart disease is also higher risk in Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian populations.
What factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease besides factors that can’t be changed? There are major risk factors that you can modify or control by changing your lifestyle. Tobacco smoke is a large risk factor that can be eliminated when you quit smoking. Smokers have a 2-4 times greater risk of developing heart disease than non-smokers.
Another risk factor that can be controlled or modified is high blood cholesterol. As your cholesterol rises so does your risk of coronary heart disease. Although your cholesterol is affected by age, sex and heredity it can be controlled with diet and exercise.
Your blood pressure will increase your heart’s workload and cause the heart muscle to become thicker and stiffer. It increases your risk of heart attack, congestive failure and heart attack.
What factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease that can also be modified? Your physical activity level is a great predictor of your risk of developing heart disease. Inactivity will increase your risk while moderate to vigorous activity will prevent heart and vessel disease. Physical activity will also help to control your weight, cholesterol, diabetes and lower blood pressure.
Although Diabetes mellitus isn’t completely preventable it is completely controllable. People with diabetes have a much higher risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke, especially if the blood sugar isn’t controlled. Diabetes can be well controlled with exercise and balanced nutrition.
Stress is another contributing factor to coronary heart disease. The link has been made and is conclusive. However, the reason why this link exists isn’t clear. It may be that people under a great deal of stress also overeat, smoke and drink alcohol or it may be that the stress causes arterial damage itself. The reasons may not be clear but doctors are certain that by decreasing your stress levels you will also decrease your risk for heart disease.
There are other factors that may contribute to the question “What factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease?” and scientists continue to research those factors. At this time researchers are studying the effects that C-reactive protein, homocysteine, fibrinogen and lipoprotein (a) have on the development of heart disease. Breakthroughs in research lead to better prevention and better treatment options for patients who already suffer from coronary heart disease.