May 22, 2024
Risk factors for heart disease

Cardiac Care in Florida

Risk factors for heart disease

Jason Garcia | 8/8/2017


» Age: Women usually develop heat disease about 10 to 15 years later than men because, until menopause, ovaries produce estrogen, which helps to protect against plaque buildup. But by about age 70, the risk of heart disease is the same for both sexes.

» Gender: Overall, men are at a greater risk of heart disease than women.

» Family history: Women with a father or brother who developed heart disease before age 55 are at higher risk, as are women with a mother or sister who developed heart disease before age 65.

» Race and ethnicity: African-Americans are more likely to develop high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease. Research also suggests that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to develop heart disease in general, though the reasons are unclear.

» Medical history: A previous heart attack, stroke or mini-stroke are major risk factors for future heart disease.


» Cholesterol levels: Cholesterol is a type of fat that can clog arteries, making it more difficult for the heart to circulate blood.

» Blood pressure: Over time, high blood pressure can damage artery walls. To lower the risk of heart disease, blood pressure should be less than 120 systolic/80 diastolic.

» Smoking: In addition to damaging lungs, smoking also damages a person’s heart.

» Diabetes: A disease occurring frequently in people who are overweight or obese — and also more frequently in minority populations, including African- Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders — diabetes can damage artery walls.

» Weight: The more overweight a person is, the higher the risk of heart disease. Excess weight also raises the risk of heart disease risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. To lower the risk, aim for a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI of 25 or over is considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or over is considered obese. BMI calculators can be easily found online.

» Physical activity: A lack of exercise or other physical activity raises the risk of heart disease even in people who exhibit no other risk factors.

» Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea — often displayed by snoring — blocks airflow to a person’s lungs, forcing the heart to work harder.


» Heart disease accounts for three out of 10 deaths in Florida. It has been the leading cause of death in both Florida and the United States for more than 70 years.

» Roughly half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors for heart disease: High blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking.

» 65% of Florida adults are at an unhealthy weight

» 1 out of 3 children are now overweight or obese


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» Cardiac Care in Florida


Read more stories in Florida Trend's series on
» Cardiac Care in Florida


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