All kinds of things can influence the health of a person’s heart, from their lifestyle, to their diet, to their family history. It’s usually a combination of things that makes heart disease possible. So when we think about the main causes of heart disease, what we’re really thinking about is a series of risk factors: things that, together, increase a person’s chances of developing it.
So, what are these risk factors for heart disease, and what can we do about them? Let’s take a look.
What causes heart disease? Risk factors to think about
Coronary heart disease, or CHD, generally results from a build-up of fatty deposits on the walls of the coronary arteries, restricting the blood flow to the heart. The coronary heart disease risk factors below can increase the chances of this happening:
- Smoking (including passive smoking). It’s not just a risk factor for heart disease, either – quitting cigarettes for good can bring you countless benefits. Get help giving up smoking here.
- Elevated cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the key risk factors of coronary heart disease*. Luckily, there’s lots you can do to help bring your cholesterol levels down. Download our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit for a wealth of expert advice.
- A sedentary lifestyle. Getting up and active makes you feel great – all that fresh air and sunlight – and it’s good for your heart, too. Find fun exercise routines to try in our ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ section here.
- Raised blood pressure. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force with which blood is pushed against the walls of the blood vessels as it’s pumped around the body. Over time, raised blood pressure can lead to the heart pumping blood less effectively**. Check out our guide to managing blood pressure here.
- Being overweight or obese. Being above the recommended weight can make other risk factors, like raised blood pressure and cholesterol, more likely. Find out what your BMI is (and get tips on lowering it) here.
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, make sure that you’re getting all the help you need to manage your condition, and take steps to combat the other risk factors for coronary heart disease. Get advice on living with diabetes here.
- CHD in the family. If a close family member has been diagnosed with CHD, you may be more likely to develop it. According to the British Heart Foundation, for close female relatives you are considered at higher risk if they were diagnosed under the age of 65. For close male relatives, it’s under 55.
Quick tips for looking after your heart
So those are the risk factors for coronary heart disease – now what positive steps can you take to help look after your heart?
- Cut out bad habits. Quit smoking, and make sure you’re not drinking too much alcohol.
- Get plenty of physical activity. Try to fit in at least 150 minutes, or 5 sessions of 30 minutes of cardio each week. Activities falling under the cardio umbrella are cycling, running and rowing. Complementing this with doing a range of full-body strengthening exercises on two days each week is even better.
- Try to relax. Whether it’s taking a walk in the park, a yoga session, or watching your favourite show with a nice cup of tea, take a few minutes for yourself each day.
- Stick to a balanced diet. This handy article can help you create a diet plan that’s tailored to your personal needs.
And there you have it: all the main risk factors for coronary heart disease in one place. And for more information on a heart-friendly lifestyle, don’t hesitate to sign-up to our e-newsletter, or download our Cholesterol Lowering Starter Kit. Good luck!
*High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. As coronary heart disease has multiple risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk of it.
**High blood pressure is a risk factor of cardiovascular disease. There are multiple risk factors of cardiovascular disease and you may need to tackle all of them to reduce the overall risk of it. Flora ProActiv products are not designed to lower blood pressure levels.