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Risk Factors for Heart Failure
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop heart failure with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing heart failure. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
The heart has a normal decrease in function as we age. This decrease is generally not enough to cause problems but can increase the risk of developing heart disease. As a result, heart disease is more common in people who are aged 65 years or older. Although heart failure is more common in men, both men and women can develop heart failure.
African-Americans have higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. As a result, African-Americans are more likely to develop heart failure, have earlier symptoms, and die from heart failure more than any other ethnic group.
Other risk factors for heart failure include:
Conditions That Damage or Weaken the Heart
Having certain health conditions can put you at an increased risk for heart failure. These conditions force the heart to work harder to overcome heart muscle weakness or damage.
Heart, blood vessel, and lung conditions can make the heart to work harder than it should. Conditions linked to heart failure include:
Metabolic conditions can causes changes that increase pressure on heart such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and elevated heart rated. Conditions associated with increased risk of heart failure include:
Other conditions associated with increased risk of heart failure include:
Specific Lifestyle Factors
These lifestyle factors may cause heart muscle damage, increasing your risk of heart failure:
African-Americans and heart disease, stroke. American Heart Association website. Available at:
Depression and heart disease. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
Felker CM, Thompson RE, Hare JM, et al. Underlying causes and long-term survival in patients with initially unexplained cardiomyopathy. N Engl J Med. 2000;342:1077.
He, J, Ogden, LG, Bazzano, LA, et al. Risk factors for congestive heart failure in US men and women: NHANES I epidemiologic follow-up study. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:996.
Heart failure. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated October 7, 2013. Accessed October 9, 2013.
Understanding your risk for heart failure. American Heart Association website. Available at:
Who is at risk for heart failure? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
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