Many factors may increase a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease, including certain health conditions. However, people may reduce their risk by making lifestyle changes.
Heart disease, which doctors may call cardiovascular disease (CVD), is a general term that includes conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. It is the
This article discusses different risk factors for heart disease, tips to reduce the risk of heart disease, and when to speak with a doctor.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Risk factors for heart disease that a person may manage
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- eating a diet high in cholesterol, certain fats, and salt
- physical inactivity
- consuming too much alcohol
Risk factors associated with heart disease that a person cannot control
- family history of CVD
- being 65 or older
- being male, although females are more likely to die from heart disease
Rates of severe high blood pressure — a risk factor for heart disease — are disproportionately higher among Black people. Other groups of people who may have a higher risk of heart disease include:
- Mexican Americans
- American Indians
- native Hawaiians
- some Asian Americans
A person should speak with a healthcare professional to find out more about their individual risk.
According to the
- whole grains
- fat-free or low fat dairy products
- protein from foods such as lean meat, seafood, nuts, and legumes
People should consider limiting:
Healthy eating involves maintaining a caloric balance. A
A 2017 study found an association between more physical activity and lower mortality in people with stable CAD. Sedentary individuals and those with the highest mortality risk experienced the largest benefits from exercise.
A person should aim to exercise regularly. A 2018 study found that people with CAD who maintained low amounts of physical activity had a lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who became inactive over time.
- reduce insulin resistance
- reduce inflammation
- improve endothelial function — endothelial cells line the heart and blood vessels and release substances that help maintain blood flow
- decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome
However, a person should speak with a healthcare professional about losing weight safely.
Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
A 2022 study found that if a person stops smoking when they receive a CVD diagnosis, they may reduce their risk of recurrent CVD by one-third. However, quitting smoking at any time reduces a person’s risk of developing — or dying from — CVD.
Drinking alcohol in excess
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend adults
High blood pressure increases the strain on the heart, causing its muscle walls to thicken and stiffen,
The AHA and the American College of Cardiology recommend people keep their blood pressure at
A healthcare professional can help a person monitor and understand their blood pressure level.
People with type 2 diabetes are
A person with diabetes
A person should speak with a doctor about their individual risk for developing heart disease and ensure to follow a doctor’s guidance to help manage any existing medical conditions.
Heart disease can lead to life threatening complications, including heart attack and heart failure. People with heart disease should speak with a healthcare professional about managing their condition.
A person should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room if they feel
Heart disease can lead to complications such as heart attack, heart failure, and death. To reduce the risk of heart disease, a person can make the necessary lifestyle changes, which may include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a moderate weight, and quitting smoking.
A person should speak with a doctor about their individual risk of developing heart disease and the best ways to reduce their risk.