The risk factors for coronary heart disease include high cholesterol, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking. To a lesser extent, obesity and stress may contribute.
Cholesterol can be broken down into total cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol,” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol,” and triglycerides. An HDL of less than 35 and an LDL greater than 160 each definitely increase risk. High triglycerides contribute indirectly by driving down the HDL or “good cholesterol.”
Family history is most important if a mother, father, sister, or brother had a heart attack before the age of 50. Blood pressure becomes a problem if it is consistently above 140/90.
Diabetes contributes to the risk of coronary artery disease the longer you have it and the higher the average sugar levels are.
Smoking any cigarettes at all on a daily basis contributes to the risk, but the more you smoke and the longer you smoke the higher the risk becomes.
Obesity also contributes to the risk, but it may be because it increases the chance for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes and decreases the opportunity for exercise.
Stress may not directly increase the risk for coronary artery disease, but it is known to trigger heart pain or heart attacks in some people.