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What Causes Heart Disease?

Are You At Risk for Heart Disease?
  -- By Nicole Nichols, Health Educator
Many people understand that there is a connection between poor diet, lack of exercise and the development of heart disease. But your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is the result of a combination of many risk factors. There are two main categories of risks that contribute to heart disease—those that you can't change (uncontrollable risks), and those that you can (controllable risks).

Uncontrollable Risk Factors
These variables are out of your control. Although you can't do anything to change them, it's important to know whether you fall into any of these higher-risk categories. How many of these risk factors do you exhibit? Controllable Risk Factors
Factors that you can control are related to your lifestyle—the choices you make each day about what to eat and whether or not to exercise. These are areas of your life where you can take control to reduce your risk of heart disease and enhance your overall health. Other Major Risk Factors
The following risk factors are largely controllable. Some people think of them as "symptoms" of heart disease, where others may view them as precursors. Some of these risk factors put you at greater risk of heart disease than others. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of developing heart disease. The good thing is that you can break that chain of progressive disease at any point by working to reduce your controllable risk factors. You should work closely with your doctor to develop a heart-smart plan that is safe and effective for you. These plans usually involve some combination of dietary changes, exercise, medication and weight loss.

Sources
Mayo Clinic. "Heart Disease Risk Factors," accessed March 2011. www.MayoClinic.com

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. "Heart Disease Risk Factors," accessed March 2011. www.cdc.gov.

Huffington Post. "Is the Apple or Pear-Shaped Body Type More Dangerous?," accessed March 2011. www.huffingtonpost.com.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors," accessed March 2011. www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

WebMD. "Risk Factors for Heart Disease," accessed March 2011. www.webmd.com.

Texas Heart Institute. "Heart Disease Risk Factors," accessed March 2011. www.texasheartinstitute.org.

American Heart Association. "Risk Factors for Coronary Heart Disease," accessed March 2011. www.heart.org.