Risk Factors

The following table lists primary risk factors for developing heart disease.

Count your total risk factors:

_ Male 45 years or older
_ Female 55 years or older
_ Female under age 55 with premature menopause not treated with estrogen replacement therapy
_ Smoker
_ High Blood Pressure
_ Diabetes mellitus
_ Family history of heart disease (a parent or sibling under 55 if male, or under 65 if female)
_ High total blood cholesterol
_ Low HDL (good) blood cholesterol (you can subtract one risk factor if HDL is higher than 60)
_ High LDL (bad) blood cholesterol
_ High triglyceride blood level
_ Obesity - 30% or more overweight
_ Sedentary lifestyle
_ History of vascular disease

Total risk factors

Unfortunately, certain risk factors such as family history and gender cannot be changed. However, by modifying other risk factors, the odds of having a heart attack can be substantially reduced. For individuals with heart disease, the lowering of the LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter of blood) can stabilize coronary disease or even promote regression of coronary disease.

Below is a brief discussion of various risk factors and preventive measures that can be taken. More detailed explanations are available at www.americanheart.org and www.acc.org.