Reduce your risk factors

Feet on scales

Addressing any risk factors you can change will help you reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis or slow down its progression. We explain how to do this.

Modifiable (factors you can control)

Body weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of atherosclerosis, particularly carrying too much weight around your middle.

Read more about being a healthy weight

Diabetes: Diabetes can damage the walls of your arteries, which increases the risk of developing the condition. You can reduce your risk of diabetes by eating healthily, doing regular physical activity and keeping your weight under control.

Read more about diabetes

High blood pressure: One in three of us has high blood pressure. It’s a silent threat as usually there are no symptoms. So get it checked by your nurse or GP. Blood pressure is measured as part of a health check.

Read more about high blood pressure

High cholesterol: Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the blood, and plays an essential role in how cells in the body work. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of atherosclerosis.

Read more about high cholesterol

Physical inactivity: If you’re inactive, you are more at risk than someone who is active. Do some physical activity every day and build up to a total of 150 minutes of activity a week.

Read more about staying active

Smoking: If you’re a smoker, giving up is the single most important thing you can do for your heart health.

Read more about quitting smoking

Non-modifiable (factors you can’t control)

Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to develop atherosclerosis.

Gender: Men are more likely to develop the condition at an earlier age than women, but as women get older the gender gap narrows.

Ethnicity: Some ethnic groups have a different level of risk. For example, South Asian people are at higher risk compared with the rest of the UK population. Both genetics and lifestyle are likely to play a part.

Family history: If your father or brother developed heart or circulatory disease before the age of 55, or your mother or sister before the age of 65, then you’re at higher risk.

Read our feature about atherosclerosis

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