Risk factors you cannot change

There are a few risk factors for heart disease and stroke that are outside of your control. Men, for example, are at greater risk than women up to a certain age due to gender differences. Equally, as we grow older, our risk of all diseases tends to increase. It’s important to remember that we can still reduce the impact of these risk factors by being aware of them and making a conscious effort to lead an active and healthy lifestyle.

Men and women both develop heart disease, but men tend to develop it 10 years earlier, on average, than women.

Your risk is increased by almost double if there is a family history of heart disease and stroke, especially at a younger age.

Risk of heart disease and stroke increases as we get older. The lifestyle choices you make throughout your life will have an impact on how well your heart ages.

Some ethnic groups have a higher risk of developing heart disease, e.g. African Americans and South Asians.

Although genetics can make you more prone to high cholesterol, do not assume that your high cholesterol levels are down to your genes. The same bad eating habits tend to run in families so do try making changes to your diet and lifestyle before you decide there is nothing you can do about your ‘family’ cholesterol problem!