Leading Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S.  Many Americans have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  Our lifestyle choices can have a direct impact on some of these risk factors.  It’s never too late to start taking steps toward better heart health and quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are some of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

High Blood Pressure

Approximately 70% of American seniors have high blood pressure, or hypertension.  High blood pressure damages arteries that provide blood flow to the heart, which weakens the heart muscle over time.  The heart can become enlarged due to the added workload.  Untreated high blood pressure increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol can lead to the buildup of fatty deposits that block blood vessels.  Having too much LDL cholesterol, the “bad” kind of cholesterol, can lead to heart disease.  Since high cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms for many people, it’s important to have regular cholesterol screenings.  Medication and dietary changes can help lower cholesterol levels.


Age is a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those who don’t have it.  Diabetes damages blood vessels and tends to raise “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides.  Many people with insulin resistance are also obese, which is another risk factor for heart disease.  Exercise and losing excess weight can help prevent type 2 diabetes.


Smoking damages blood vessels by causing them to thicken and narrow.  Smoking also tends to make the blood more likely to clot.  Smokers may have higher triglyceride levels and more “bad” cholesterol.  Quitting smoking improves cardiovascular health.


It’s estimated that over 30% of Americans are overweight and more than 40% of those are considered obese.  Obesity is a contributing factor for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which increase the risk of heart disease.  Carrying excess weight increases inflammation and puts stress on the heart.  Eating a healthy diet and controlling portion size help prevent heart disease.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Those with inactive lifestyles are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  Regular physical activity helps with weight loss, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent diabetes.  Even light to moderate exercise is beneficial in maintaining heart health for seniors.

Renaissance Villages

Residents at Renaissance Villages have access to onsite fitness and wellness programs through our partner, EmpowerMe Wellness.  Our residents also enjoy healthy, chef-prepared meals served in our restaurant-style dining rooms.  Transportation is available to and from appointments, so residents are able to see their doctors as needed.  Contact us for a tour of our residential offerings.      

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