9 heart disease risk factors, according to experts


Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (opens in new tab) (CDC). It encompasses a range of conditions, including blood vessel diseases such as coronary artery disease, problems with heart rhythm, and congenital heart defects, according to the Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab).  Many heart disease risk factors interact with one another: Stress, for example, increases blood pressure, but so do obesity and smoking, which all increase the strain on the heart. 

From high cholesterol to a sedentary lifestyle, here are nine things that increase the risk of heart disease.

1. Smoking

close up of a person smoking a cigarette

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Smoking is a significant risk factor and causes 1 in 4 deaths from cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC (opens in new tab). Even people who smoke less than five cigarettes a day may begin to show signs of heart disease, according to the CDC. Non-smokers can also be at risk if they are frequently around people who smoke, with more than 33,000 Americans dying each year from heart disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, the CDC said.


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