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What causes heart disease? The most common types and risk factors

smoking smoking
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease.
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  • There are many different types of heart disease but they all refer to some type of condition that damages your heart.
  • Many heart diseases have similar root causes including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and genetics.
  • This article was reviewed by , cardiologist and director of the Women's Heart Health Clinic at . 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

11选5精准杀号法Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it causes .  

11选5精准杀号法But there are many different types of heart disease. Here's what you need to know about what causes some of the most common types, and the biggest risk factors. 

What causes heart disease 

11选5精准杀号法Heart disease is a term used to describe many different conditions that damage your heart. Some of the most common types include: 

  • Coronary artery disease. Also known as ischemic heart disease is a narrowing of the coronary arteries due to plaque buildup, and the . Plaque build-up consists of cholesterol and other fatty deposits on the walls of an artery, narrowing the artery over time and decreasing blood flow. 
  • Myocardial infarction. Also known as a heart attack, is a blockage of blood flow to the heart. This is typically the result of plaque build-up in the artery that breaks away and forms a clot, thus obstructing blood flow. Every year, about , according to the CDC. 
  • Hypertensive heart disease. A heart condition caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high, causing the heart to weaken by working against the high pressures. 
  • Congestive heart failure. This occurs when the heart is weakened and not able to efficiently pump blood throughout the body. Other health conditions that affect your cardiovascular system can result in congestive heart failure, such as damage to your heart valves, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. 
  • Congenital heart disease is present at birth, caused by heart defects that occur when the heart is formed in the womb. Congenital heart defects are one of the most common types of birth defects, affecting about in the United States. 

The major risk factors for heart disease 

While there are many different types of heart disease, many of them have similar root causes. 

11选5精准杀号法According to , MD, director of cardiology at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking cigarettes cause inflammation in the arteries and result in plaque building up, increasing your risk of heart disease when left uncontrolled. 

Research has found that with heart disease have at least one of these major risk factors. Lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and foods low in sodium can help .  

Secondary risk factors for heart disease include because inflammation can irritate your blood vessels and may contribute to plaque build-up, Dhruva says. The risk of heart disease , and men are also at a than women.   

Family history can play a big role in your risk of developing heart disease, says . A genetic predisposition to high blood pressure and high cholesterol can run in families. If you are over the age of 20 and have a parent or sibling who had a heart attack before the age of 50, you are to have a heart attack than those without a family history. 

"Unfortunately, a significant percentage of people can have heart disease in spite of having an excellent diet and exercising a lot," Ahmad says. "People can inherit broken genes that cause the heart muscle to fail or be predisposed to life-threatening arrhythmias."

11选5精准杀号法Ahmad says those with a strong family history of heart disease should see a cardiologist and get a personalized risk assessment. 

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