Factors That Increase Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Having High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure damages the arteries by making them less elastic. This constricts and decreases blood and oxygen flow to the heart, leading to heart disease. Over time, decreased blood flow caused by high blood pressure can lead to chest pain, heart attack, stroke, and even heart failure. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney failure.

Having High Cholesterol

High cholesterol causes the arteries to narrow (known as atherosclerosis) and restricts blood flow, putting you at greater risk of heart attack or stroke. Though many lifestyle and dietary factors can contribute to high cholesterol, this condition can also run in families. If you have a close family member with high cholesterol, you are at greater risk of developing the condition. High cholesterol has no symptoms, the only way to know you have it is to test for it.

Having Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)

If you have diabetes, you are two times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than someone who does not have the condition. High blood sugar from diabetes damages the heart and blood vessels. Over time, this can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides, all of which contribute to heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have heart disease. But you can take measures to reduce your risk and the first step is testing.

Being a Smoker

Smokers are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than nonsmokers and the habit doubles your risk of stroke. Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels and arteries, decreasing blood flow and damaging the blood vessels. It also causes the blood to thicken and form clots. If you are a smoker, it’s important to screen regularly for indications of heart disease.