A risk factor is anything that enhances the likelihood of disease, but may not directly cause a disease. With coronary artery disease, there are two essential categories of risk factors: those that can be changed and those that cannot.
Risk factors that cannot be changed include male gender, advanced age, family history of heart disease and race. Risk factors that can be changed include smoking, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity, being overweight or obese, high-fat diet, excessive alcohol consumption and uncontrolled stress and anger.
Lifestyle Modifications and Medications
Fortunately, a large percentage of coronary artery disease cases can be prevented and managed with simple lifestyle changes. Not smoking tops the list. Also important are regular exercise, along with eating a low-fat, low-sodium and low-cholesterol diet.