There are many risk factors for heart diseases: age, gender, tobacco use, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, obesity, genetic predisposition and family history of cardiovascular disease, raised blood pressure (hypertension), raised blood sugar (diabetes mellitus), raised blood cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), undiagnosed celiac disease, psychosocial factors, poverty and low educational status, and air pollution.While the individual contribution of each risk factor varies between different communities or ethnic groups the overall contribution of these risk factors is very consistent. Some of these risk factors, such as age, gender or family history/genetic predisposition, are immutable; however, many important cardiovascular risk factors are modifiable by lifestyle change, social change, drug treatment (for example prevention of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes). People with obesity are at increased risk of atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries.
Genetic factors influence the development of cardiovascular disease in men who are less than 55 years-old and in women who are less than 65 years old.Cardiovascular disease in a person’s parents increases their risk by 3 fold.Multiple single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease in genetic association studies, but usually their individual influence is small, and genetic contributions to cardiovascular disease are poorly understood.
Age is the most important risk factor in developing cardiovascular or heart diseases, with approximately a tripling of risk with each decade of life. Coronary fatty streaks can begin to form in adolescence. It is estimated that 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 and older. Simultaneously, the risk of stroke doubles every decade after age
Multiple explanations are proposed to explain why age increases the risk of cardiovascular/heart diseases. One of them relates to serum cholesterol level. In most populations, the serum total cholesterol level increases as age increases. In men, this increase levels off around age 45 to 50 years. In women, the increase continues sharply until age 60 to 65 years.
Aging is also associated with changes in the mechanical and structural properties of the vascular wall, which leads to the loss of arterial elasticity and reduced arterial compliance and may subsequently lead to coronary artery disease.