Heart disease kills more Americans each year than any other disease or illness.
It is important to understand what makes heart disease so common and how you can reduce
your chances of having heart disease. Heart disease can be
silent (no symptoms) in some persons.
They may not be aware of heart disease until they have a heart attack (also known as a
myocardial infarction). More than 2600 Americans die
every day from cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel)
The August 20, 2003, issue of JAMA includes
several articles about risk factors for heart disease. A risk factor
is something that makes you more likely to have a disease, illness, or medical problem. Some risk
factors are modifiable (can be made better). Other risk factors,
such as age and genetics (family history), cannot be changed.
Smoking or exposure to environmental tobacco smoke
Sedentary lifestyle (not enough physical activity)
High cholesterol or abnormal blood lipids (fats)
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Age older than 50 years
Family history of heart disease
Eat a low-fat diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
Exercise daily for at least 30 minutes.
Control diabetes and hypertension if you already have these medical problems.
Manage your cholesterol and blood lipid levels if they are elevated.
Know your family history, especially about heart attacks or sudden death at age
younger than 50 years.
See your doctor regularly to assess heart risks, manage heart disease if it is already
present, and reduce your risk of heart attack or sudden
American Heart Association888/694-3278http://www.americanheart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute301/592-8573http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention888/246-2675http://www.cdc.gov
National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease202/728-7199http://www.womenheart.org
To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on
JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com.
Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on heart disease and women was published
in the December 25, 2002, issue; one on obesity and weight loss was published in the April 9, 2003, issue;
and one on smoking and the heart was published in the July 2, 2003, issue.
Sources: American Heart Association; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute;
National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
American College of Cardiology
The JAMA Patient Page is a public
service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are
appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For
specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that
you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians
and other health care professionals to share with patients. Any other print or online reproduction
is subject to AMA approval. To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.
Topic: CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
Torpy JM, Lynm C, Glass RM. Risk Factors for Heart Disease. JAMA. 2003;290(7):980. doi:10.1001/jama.290.7.860