Certain risk factors like age and family history can’t be controlled; many lifestyle habits, however, can be modified to lower your heart disease risk. Jacobs explains the reasons he believes diabetes to be the leading risk factor, even above smoking.
“It’s not just the elevated sugar levels and inflammation that contribute to risk; it’s the lifestyle that leads to diabetes in the first place. Diabetics are more likely to be obese and to lead a sedentary lifestyle,” he says.
According to the CDC, nearly half of Americans have 1 of 3 of the more serious risk factors defined as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
General Risk Factors
High LDL (low-density lipoprotein)
Too much LDL or “bad cholesterol” in the arteries may lead to plaque buildup and cause narrowing of the arteries.
Referred to as “good” cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein helps remove the bad cholesterol from arteries.
Increased sugar levels over time can damage the nerves and vessels leading to the heart.
The chemicals in cigarettes damage cells. It also causes blood to thicken and increases chances of blood clots or plaque which narrows the arteries.
Through menopause, hormones, especially estrogen, cause many changes in a woman’s body. One effect is blood vessels become less elastic and stiffer.
Obesity – Carrying extra weight adds stress to the body in general. Specifically, it leads to high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.