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High Blood Pressure - Risk Factors From Medication

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Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. They can also increase the chances that an existing disease will get worse. Important risk factors for heart dis- ease that you can do something about are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight, physical inactivity, and diabetes. Recent research shows that more than 95 percent of those who die from heart disease have at least one of these major risk factors. Certain risk factors, such as getting older, can’t be changed. After menopause, women are more likely to develop heart disease. For both women and men, middle age is a time of increasing risk because people are more likely to develop heart disease risk factors during this stage of life. Family history of early heart disease is another risk factor that can’t be changed. If your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, or if your mother or sister had one before age 65, you are more likely to get heart disease. While certain risk factors cannot be changed, it is important to realize that you do have control over many others. Regardless of your age or family history, you can take important steps to lower your risk of heart disease. How Risk Works It may be tempting to believe that doing just one healthy thing will take care of your heart disease risk. For example, you may hope that if you walk or swim regularly, you can still eat a lot of fatty foods and stay fairly healthy. Not true. To protect your heart, it is vital to make changes that address each and every risk factor you have. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But mak- ing them is very important. While each risk factor increases your risk of heart disease, having more than one risk factor is especially serious. That’s because risk factors tend to “gang up” and worsen each other’s effects. For example, if you have high blood cholesterol and you smoke, your heart disease risk increases enormously. The message is clear: You need to take heart disease risk seriously, and the best time to reduce that risk is now
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