Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally. Certain uncontrollable factors, like genetics, predispose an individual to experiencing a heart attack; however, you can control or treat most risk factors to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

What are the Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Disease?

There are both controllable and uncontrollable factors that make an individual more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

 Uncontrollable Risks:

  • Age: As you age you become more likely to develop cardiovascular disease or experience a heart attack due to slight physiologic changes in the heart. It can also be more difficult to treat CVD in individuals of an advanced age, resulting in more extensive damage.
  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop heart disease than women. However, after a woman reaches menopause, her risk increases to that of a man’s.
  • Family History:  Genetics play a role in your risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If an immediate family member has had coronary heart disease by the age of 55 (or by the age of 65 for women), your risk increases.

Modifiable Factors:

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in people under the age of 50. Smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by temporarily increasing blood pressure, lowering exercise tolerance, damaging blood vessels, lowering the blood’s oxygen levels, and contributing to blood clot development.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease globally. Individuals with high blood pressure (usually defined as 140/90 or higher) are more likely to experience cardiac events.
  • High Cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol in the blood: LDL (“bad” cholesterol) that clogs arteries, and HDL (“good” cholesterol) that clears artery blockage. LDL levels should be 129 or under; HDL levels should 60 or higher. If there are high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, it begins to accumulate on the artery walls. As the arteries become increasingly narrow, blood is slowed or blocked, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart. The extra stress on the heart caused by high cholesterol, especially when combined with other risk factors, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Unhealthy Weight: People with excess body fat are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, especially if they carry the extra weight on their waist. Unhealthy weight increases blood pressure and cholesterol as well as increasing the risk for diabetes.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes greatly increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk of a heart-related incident or death dramatically increases if blood sugar is not well managed.
  • Physical Inactivity: Inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Physical activity helps strengthen the heart and blood vessels. Additionally, physical inactivity fuels other risk factors such as unhealthy weight, diabetes, etc.

Jean Brown Research is conducting a clinical research study for an investigational medication to see if it can help reduce LDL levels and increase HDL levels. Qualified participants must be over 18 and at high risk for cardiovascular events. Participants may receive study medication, evaluation by a qualified physician at no cost, and compensation of up to $850 for time and travel. Learn more about this cardiovascular study.