In the United States, coronary heart disease (CHD) is the #1 cause of death for both men and women. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from CHD.
Certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for CHD. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop the disease.
You can control many risk factors, which may help prevent or delay CHD.
Although older age and a family history of early heart disease are risk factors, it doesn't mean that you’ll develop CHD if you have one or both. Controlling other risk factors often can lessen genetic influences and help prevent CHD, even in older adults.
Researchers continue to study other possible risk factors for CHD.
High levels of a protein called C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood may raise the risk of CHD and heart attack. High levels of CRP are a sign of inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection. Damage to the arteries' inner walls may trigger inflammation and help plaque grow.
Research is under way to find out whether reducing inflammation and lowering CRP levels also can reduce the risk of CHD and heart attack.
High levels of triglycerides (tri-GLIH-seh-rides) in the blood also may raise the risk of CHD, especially in women. Triglycerides are a type of fat.
Other conditions and factors also may contribute to CHD, including:
For more detailed information, go to the Health Topics Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors article.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Coronary Heart Disease, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
When a heart attack happens, any delays in treatment can be deadly.
Knowing the warning symptoms of a heart attack and how to take action can save your life or someone else’s.
The NHLBI has created a new series of informative, easy-to-read heart attack materials to help the public better understand the facts about heart attacks and how to act fast to save a life.
Click the links to download or order the NHLBI's new heart attack materials:
“Don’t Take a Chance With a Heart Attack: Know the Facts and Act Fast” (also available in Spanish)
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.