According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States, regardless of sex, race, or ethnicity. The exceptions are women from the Pacific Islands, and women of Asian, American Indian, Alaska Native, or Hispanic descent. The reasons for the prevalence of this deadly disease are complex, and the subject of many scientific studies.

At Maryland Cardiology Associates in Greenbelt, Maryland, our highly trained providers work to make sure all of our patients enjoy the highest possible quality of life by offering thorough cardiac care.

In this post, we look at the biggest risk factors associated with heart disease, many of which you can modify to lower your personal risk.

Things you can’t control

Some of the risk factors for heart attack are things you can’t change, like your family history. Another is age. As you get older, your risk of developing heart disease increases, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.

However, there are many more risk factors for heart disease that can be modified, and those are the ones we want to focus on.

Health conditions associated with heart disease

Several health conditions raise your risk of heart disease, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Many of the lifestyle modifications we recommend help control these conditions as well as lower your risk of heart disease.

If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these conditions, it’s very important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you’ve been prescribed medication, take it. If your doctor recommends specific lifestyle changes, work to make them happen.

Things you can control

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are things that you can change, including:

Tobacco use

Tobacco use is still a leading cause of heart disease even though it’s been steadily declining. If you smoke, one of the best things you can do for your heart is quit.


Eating foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. Similarly, excessive sodium consumption can raise your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. Eating a heart-healthy diet can go a long way toward reducing your risk for problems.


Physical activity is crucial for good health. Getting enough exercise can lower your risk of heart disease, as well as decrease your risk for other conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, in whatever increments you prefer. Along with aerobic activity, it’s important to focus on building strength through resistance or weight training at least two days a week.


Limiting alcohol use is another way to mitigate your risk of heart disease. Alcohol can raise your blood sugar and increase the levels of triglycerides in your blood, which is another risk factor for heart disease.

Get personalized advice

General advice is great, but the best way to lower your risk of heart disease is to talk to an expert about your specific situation. Your family history, medical history, and lifestyle are all important in determining your risk of developing heart disease.

Schedule an appointment at Maryland Cardiology Associates today and find out what you can do to protect your health. Call our office or book a visit online.

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