Risk Factors

By keeping informed about risk factors and actively practicing healthful habits, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing heart disease. Mission Heart Center urges you to study these risk factors and make any necessary changes in order to help you stay as healthy as possible.

Do these risk factors describe you?

Poor diet- a diet that's high in salt, fat and cholesterol can play a leading role in the development of heart disease. To find information about heart-healthy nutrition, visit the American Heart Association.

Smoking- heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers. Smokers are more susceptible to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) because nicotine constricts your blood vessels and carbon monoxide damages their inner linings. For help quitting, join our smoking cessation program.

High blood pressure- high blood pressure can result in narrowing, hardening and thickening of your arteries, leading to heart disease. Healthy diet and lifestyle habits can keep your blood pressure in check. Get help managing your blood pressure.

High blood cholesterol- high levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart attack. The plaques formed are often the result of high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), known as "bad" cholesterol, or a low level of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), known as "good" cholesterol. Get help understanding and managing your cholesterol.

Diabetes- diabetes is a serious health condition in which the body has difficulty with regulating blood sugar due to insufficient production of the hormone insulin. People with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease. Join our diabetes management program to get control of your diabetes.

Obesity- carrying around extra weight puts an unnecessary strain on your entire body, including your heart, circulatory system, lungs, bones and joints. Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for other serious health conditions in addition to heart disease, including diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, cancer and sleep apnea (a condition that causes you to briefly and repeatedly stop breathing while you sleep).  Keep your body mass index (BMI) in check to decrease your chances of developing heart disease and other preventable diseases. Our weight management program can help.

Lack of Exercise- even if you avoid all the other risk factors for heart disease, if you do not get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity a day, you are at an increased risk of developing heart disease.

High stress levels- many studies have reported a connection between stress and heart disease. The most common "trigger" reported by heart attack victims, for instance, is an emotionally upsetting event, particularly involving anger. The ways that individuals cope with stress may also contribute to heart disease because of behaviors such as overeating, smoking or excessive alcohol consumption. If you feel that your stress level has become unmanageable, consider joining our stress management clinic.

Birth control pill- smoking while taking a birth control pill, especially after the age of 35, puts you at a high risk for cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke. You should never smoke while taking the pill.

There are some risk factors that are out of your control. However, it is important to be aware of them in order to understand your risks for heart disease.

Family history- if someone in your family has had heart disease, it is especially important to pay close attention to other risk factors. If a parent or close relative developed heart disease at an early age, before age 55 for a male relative, and 65 for a female relative, the risks are even higher.

Age- as we grow older, we are at a higher risk of increasingly damaged and narrowed arteries, as well as a weakened or thickened heart muscle.

Sex- though the risk for women increases at menopause, men are generally at greater risk of developing heart disease.

To learn more about risk factors for heart disease, visit The American Heart Association.