Risk Factors

Unfortunately, the simple fact of being a woman increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Factors That Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease

When you think of an energetic college athlete, the last thing you’d think she’d have to worry about is heart disease. But that’s exactly what 19-year-old Regan Judd was faced with her junior year. Turns out, her youth was no match for risk factors like her heart murmur and a family history of heart disease.
young woman with long hair contemplating the fragile nature of life
Regan’s story is unfortunate proof that heart disease does not spare the young. It does not discriminate based on age, and in combination with lifestyle, overall health and whether or not it runs in your family, these factors can work together to raise your risk. While you can’t change things like age and family history, the good news is that even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent. Read on to learn more about each of the risk factors, how to assess each and the keys to prevention so you can cut your risk and keep heart disease out of your life – for good.

Even modest changes to your diet and lifestyle can improve your heart health and lower your risk by as much as 80 percent.

What You Can & Can't Control

Some risk factors you can't do anything about. But others you can treat, manage or control with the help of your healthcare provider. Those you can’t change, like your family history, are still important when assessing your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Risk Factors That Can Be Managed

You can control or treat these risk factors with lifestyle changes and your healthcare provider's help:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Lack of regular activity
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes

Risk Factors You Can't Control


You can't change these risk factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heredity (family health history)
  • Race
  • Previous stroke or heart attack


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