High blood pressure puts you at risk for coronary heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. To decide on the best way to treat your high blood pressure, your doctor will check to see if you have other risk factors
for heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop heart disease. Your doctor will talk with you about all of the following risk factors for heart disease.
- Smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Smoking also increases your risk for stroke, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease. Everyone knows that it's hard to quit smoking, but doing so is essential to your health. Ask your doctor for help.
- High blood cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol you are at greater risk for developing fatty deposits that clog your arteries, called plaque. It also puts you at greater risk for heart attack and stroke. If you have high blood cholesterol see the Cholesterol Center to learn how to lower it.
- Age. As you get older, your risk of developing heart disease increases. If you are older than age 60, you are at greater risk for heart disease.
- Gender. Women who have gone through menopause and men of all ages are more likely to develop heart disease.
- Family history. You have a higher risk of heart disease if your sister or mother had heart disease before age 65. You are also at high risk if your brother or father had heart disease before age 55.
- Diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for heart disease. Diabetes can increase the triglycerides and the LDL, known as the bad cholesterol, in your blood. It can also decrease the HDL, known as the good cholesterol. This can increase your risk for atherosclerosis , heart disease, and stroke.
- Obesity. If you are overweight, you are at greater risk for heart disease. Being overweight puts you at risk not only for high blood pressure but also for diabetes. These are two of the main risk factors for heart disease. It's not easy to lose weight, but you need to make the effort for your health. Ask your doctor for help.
- Low level of physical activity. If you are inactive, you're at greater risk for heart disease. Make the effort to increase your activity each day. Doing so can help to decrease your blood pressure and increase the HDL, known as good cholesterol, in your blood. Both of these changes lower your risk of heart disease. Getting more exercise can also help you lose weight.