Cardiovascular diseases are related to the disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Such disorders can lead to heart attacks, angina pain and also strokes. But the good thing is that both the heart diseases and strokes are considered preventable, and many common risk factors are within your control.

Below is the list of common risk factors for heart disease and what you can do to lower it:

Age: It is said that men over 45 and women over 55 have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. To prevent it, exercise regularly, eat properly and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Gender: Men are considered to be at a higher risk of developing heart diseases than women. The risk for women rises after menopause.

Family history: Sometimes your habits are not to be blamed. A previous family history or genetics could be a major reason of a heart attack. This generally happens if your immediate family members like parents or siblings have had a high blood pressure, high cholesterol or a heart attack in the past.

High blood pressure: A major cause of a stroke can be high blood pressure (hypertension). A nutritious diet, healthy body weight and regular exercise can help lower your blood pressure. Regular medication is generally recommended in this case.

High cholesterol: Sometimes excess of “Bad” cholesterol in your body causes hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) which could lead to cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise, nutritious diet and also medication can help lower your cholesterol. Do not consume medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

Being overweight:  Get your Body Mass Index (BMI) done on a regular basis to know if you are overweight or not. Excessive body weight could be one of the reasons to develop heart diseases and other health problems.

Lack of exercise:  Regular physical activity is a must to prevent heart problems. Try to decrease stress and maintain a healthy diet to stay fit. Get yourself enrolled in a gym, take dance lessons, try a team sport, run in the evenings or start a lunchtime walking club with your co-workers.

Unhealthy diet: Say goodbye to unhealthy and fried food items to stay fit. Eating more fruits and vegetables, and reducing the quantity of sodium, saturated fats and trans-fats, are great heart-healthy steps. Limit your portion size and keep yourself hydrated to maintain a healthy heart.

Smoking: Quit smoking today. Your risk of heart disease and stroke reduces to half from the moment you quit smoking. For more assistance on this, one can consult a doctor or visit a Smokers’ Helpline.

Excessive alcohol intake: Consuming excessive alcohol is one of the major reasons of a stroke. Experts say that men should not have more than three drinks per day, and women should not have more than two drinks per day to stay fit.

Initially, it will be difficult to change a habit, but eventually your heart will thank you for the change. Do not try to bring huge changes in your lifestyle in a day or two. Start small and make cardio-friendly habits a part of your daily routine.