Heart and Vascular Disease: The Risk Factors

Cardiovascular disease refers to disorders of the heart or any of the blood vessels. These include:

Some cardiovascular diseases, like heart valve defects, congenital heart disease and aortic aneurysms, do not have risk factors. However, many cardiovascular disorders are acquired.

Heart and vascular risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Family history

You cannot change your family history or your genetics. But, you can help guard against many of these risk factors by:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating a low-fat diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Talking to your doctor about your questions and concerns


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.