Heart Disease Risk Factors: How Much Control Do You Have?

Fol­low your heart. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Heart of gold. 

There are many com­mon phras­es that focus on the heart — yet many peo­ple for­get to do the same. With your heart play­ing such a big role in your over­all well-being, it’s impor­tant to think about one of the biggest threats to your health: heart disease. 

What is Heart Disease?

  • Heart dis­ease is an umbrel­la term that includes mul­ti­ple kinds of heart con­di­tions such as coro­nary artery dis­ease (CAD).
  • Symp­toms of heart dis­ease can include a heart attack, heart fail­ure, or heart arrhyth­mia (pal­pi­ta­tions, or a flut­tery feel­ing in your chest). 
  • Your risk for heart dis­ease is impact­ed by many fac­tors — but there’s a lot you can do to reduce your risk.

Dif­fer­ent health con­di­tions can put you at a high­er risk for heart dis­ease, and this might lead you to believe that it’s all bio­log­i­cal and just a risk you’re born with. In real­i­ty, the fac­tors that can increase your risk for heart dis­ease can come from your body, your habits, and even your envi­ron­ment — mean­ing there might be more at play than you think. 

Here are some oth­er fac­tors that can impact your risk for heart disease.


As you get old­er, your body will expe­ri­ence many changes. Some of these you can see, like your hair going gray — but some are hap­pen­ing inside your body, like changes in your blood ves­sels and heart. This can increase your risk for heart dis­ease, which is why a healthy lifestyle is impor­tant at any age. 

Anx­i­ety and Stress 

Men­tal health is often for­got­ten about when it comes to phys­i­cal health, but anx­i­ety and stress can have a sig­nif­i­cant effect on your heart. Anx­i­ety and stress can cause your heart rate and blood pres­sure to increase — while also lim­it­ing the flow of blood to your heart. 

Anx­i­ety and stress are a part of life, but when this becomes your con­stant state (like with an anx­i­ety dis­or­der), it can cause cal­ci­um buildup and heart dis­ease.

Learn more about how to reduce stress for a health­i­er heart.

Den­tal Health 

Tak­ing care of your teeth isn’t just for looks — it can also pro­tect your heart. It might seem unre­lat­ed, but brush­ing and floss­ing reg­u­lar­ly can help pre­vent plaque build-up and gum dis­ease — which can increase your risk of heart dis­ease and stroke. 


While heart dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death in the US regard­less of gen­der, many peo­ple don’t con­sid­er some risk fac­tors that may be more spe­cif­ic to women. Your risk for heart dis­ease may increase due to stress, depres­sion, preg­nan­cy com­pli­ca­tions, or even low­er lev­els of estro­gen after menopause.

Not Hav­ing a Pri­ma­ry Care Provider 

Dur­ing your annu­al well­ness vis­it, your Duly pri­ma­ry care provider mea­sures your blood pres­sure and your cho­les­terol lev­els. High blood pres­sure and unhealthy cho­les­terol lev­els can lead to a big­ger risk for a heart attack, stroke, or heart fail­ure. Your Duly pri­ma­ry care provider plays a key role in mon­i­tor­ing your heart health and the ear­ly detec­tion of heart diseases. 

Phys­i­cal Inactivity 

Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty is one of the best ways to focus on your heart health — and your over­all health. A lack of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty in your rou­tine can lead to future heart prob­lems, but just a lit­tle more move­ment each day can make a big dif­fer­ence. Try aer­o­bic exer­cis­es like walk­ing, run­ning, bik­ing, swim­ming, or danc­ing to give your heart a boost.


If you’re look­ing for a rea­son to quit smok­ing, your heart can give you a good one. Smok­ing and heart dis­ease often go hand in hand, and while it may not be easy to quit smok­ing, it’s def­i­nite­ly worth it.

25% of heart dis­ease or stroke deaths are caused by smok­ing. Your Duly pri­ma­ry care provider can help con­nect you with the sup­port and tips you need to help you quit today.

Unhealthy Diet

What you eat can play a big role in your heart health, but eat­ing a heart-healthy diet isn’t as dif­fi­cult as you may think. There are some foods to lim­it — like foods high in sodi­um, sat­u­rat­ed fats, trans fats, and added sug­ars — but by focus­ing on tasty foods to add to your diet, you may find a heart-healthy diet easier. 

Try work­ing some of these into your week­ly shop­ping list:

  • Whole grains, like oat­meal, brown rice, and whole grain bread 
  • Fruits, like bananas, oranges, and apples 
  • Veg­eta­bles, like spinach, and broccoli
  • Low-fat dairy products 
  • Pro­teins, like chick­en, fish, and beans

Show Your Heart Some Love With Duly 

Every day, your heart shows up to work with a big job — to keep you healthy and help you do the things you want to do. Your heart makes it pos­si­ble for you to meet your health goals, whether that’s run­ning a marathon or increas­ing your steps each day.

Your heart health jour­ney can change with just a lit­tle atten­tion and small changes to your rou­tine. With such a big role in your well-being, it’s always smart to give your heart a lit­tle more love.

Duly Health And Care is here to help you be your best self on your heart health jour­ney. Reach out to your pri­ma­ry care provider today to build a more heart-healthy lifestyle.

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