Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Risk Factors

What is Cardiovascular Disease?


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Risk factors are what makes someone more likely to develop a disease. There are two types of risk factors: Non-modifiable risk factors and Modifiable risk factors . The non-modifiable are those that cannot be changed and modifiable are those that could be changed if the individual is willing to change through lifestyle, habits, and diet.

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors: Coronary artery disease is one that has non-modifiable risk factors that include age, sex, and heredity.


  • Four out of five people who die of heart attack are 65 years or older.
  • 45 percent of heart attacks occur in people under age of 65.
  • 80 percent of coronary mortality in people under the age of 65 occurs during the initial attack.


  • Males are generally at greater risk than females.
  • After menopause, women's death rate from heart attack increases.
  • 48 percent of men and 63 percent of women who died suddenly of coronary artery disease had no previous evidence of the disease.
  • Within six years after a heart attack, 23 percent of men and 31 percent of women will have another heart attack.


  • Family history

Modifiable Risk Factors: The modifiable risk factors for coronary artery disease that could be could be changed include smoking, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity.


  • The most important modifiable risk factor.
  • Cigarette smoking accelerates the process of arterial thickening or adds the equivalent of 10 years of aging to one's arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Smoking-related illnesses cost the U.S. about $50 billion annually in medical care.
  • And most important; when people stop smoking, their risk rapidly declines so the three years after quitting a pack per day or less, their risk for heart disease is similar to that of non-smokers.

High Blood Cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is a soft, fat-like substance found in all the body's cells. It is produced by liver, and is also found in many food we eat. Cholesterol is necessary but there is bad cholesterol(Low density lipoprotein) and good cholesterol(High density lipoprotein).

High Blood Pressure:

  • Less active, less fit people have a 30-50 percent greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • Blood pressure increases with age, but has to specific symptoms and no early warning signs.

Physical Inactivity:

  • Increase blood cholesterol levels
  • Increases blood pressure.
  • Decreases heart and lung function
  • Increases levels of stress and weight

Attention!!!!! Cardiovascular disease, principally heart disease and stroke, is the Nation's leading killer for both men and women among all racial and ethnic groups. One person dies every 30 seconds from heart disease, that's over 2,600 people every single day!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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This site was created by Marco Galaz in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.