Risks of Heart Disease
Heart disease and the risk of heart disease
There are a number of risk factors associated with heart disease.
Age The older you get, the more likely you are to develop heart disease. This is because aging increases the risk of damaged and/or narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
Gender Men are more likely to develop heart disease, although a woman’s risk increases after the menopause.
Family History A family history of heart disease, particularly in those aged before 55 (men) or 65 (women) indicates an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
Smoking Smoking increases the risk of clogging the arteries as nicotine constricts your blood vessels and carbon monoxide damages their inner lining.
Cancer Treatments Certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapies may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Poor Diet A diet that is high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease.
High Blood Pressure Unchecked and controlled high blood pressure can harden and thicken arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
High Cholesterol High cholesterol can cause a narrowing of the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Diabetes Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease as both conditions share similar risk factors.
Obesity Carrying excess weight can contribute to a greater risk of heart disease.
Lack of Physical Activity Regular exercise, even gentle walks, can reduce the risk of heart disease.
What are the symptoms of heart disease?
Breathlessness, chest pain, aches in the chest or pressure on the chest, dizziness or blackouts and palpitations are all symptoms associated with heart disease.
Some indicate more serious conditions than others, but prolonged experience of these symptoms indicates that you may have some form of heart disease, and should therefore seek medical attention.
Some patients may have advanced underlying disease without any symptoms. These patients with a high level of risk factors for coronary disease may elect to undergo screening tests even in the absence of symptoms.
What assessments do I need to assess my risk of heart disease?
An initial consultation will explore your health history and any heart conditions suffered by closely-related family members. Then it is likely you will have an electrocardiogram (ECG) test, which takes around 10 minutes, and following that possibly an echocardiogram, which takes an additional 30 minutes.
If these tests indicate that a heart condition is present, then further screening and tests may be required to determine the exact nature of your condition and most suitable course of treatment.
What are the treatments for heart disease?
The tests and treatments for heart disease are varied depending upon the exact condition that has been diagnosed. Please refer to the individual condition pages as well as our treatment pages for further information.