02It is true. And it is serious. The risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke mainly) do more than add up, they multiply. Perhaps not in an exact formula but the reality is that the more risk factors you have the more impact and importance each one has.

There are two types of cardiovascular risk factors:

  1. Non-modifiable risks like age, gender, family history (genetics).
  2. Modifiable risk factors like weight, exercise habits, smoking, alcohol, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes

You cannot change the first set but you should take note of them because they make any other risk factors even more important. for example, if you have a family history of heart disease it becomes more important that you manage the risks you can.

It’s the modifiable risk factors that should be your focus. Each one can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by anywhere between 10% and 100% (double) or more in some cases. Each of them can be managed and or controlled such that the risk drops to normal levels, or close.

Everyone should be clear on their cardiovascular risk profile and what they are doing about it. It’s something to discuss with your doctor.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Your overall risk profile is made up of things you cannot, and things you can, manage. Are you taking charge where you can?