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Heart disease

Causes of heart disease

Photograph of a man smoking

Smoking can increase the risk of heart disease

Heart disease is not usually caused by microorganisms - it is usually caused by:

  • genetic factors, which show as a family history of heart disease
  • lifestyle factors.

Heart disease is more common in the UK than in non-industrialised countries, and many other industrialised nations. This is due to lifestyle factors including:

  • smoking
  • lack of regular exercise
  • stress leading to a fast heart rate
  • drinking a lot of alcohol
  • poor diet
  • misuse of drugs.


You may wish to view this BBC News item (2006) about research showing that people with heart disease have arteries that are biologically up to 40 years older than they are.

A lack of exercise and a diet that is high in salt and saturated fat cause people to:

  • become overweight
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high levels of cholesterol in their blood.

These factors contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.

Back to Keeping healthy index

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