Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Studies involving thousands of patients have identified a number of risk factors. These are divided into contributing and major risk factors. While many risk factors may have little direct effect on the risk of developing heart disease, some factors are linked to increased risks. These include: lifestyle, diet, physical inactivity, and genetics. In general, the risks for heart disease are much higher in women than men.
A cause is an individual factor or behavior that causes an event or disease. Ideally, an individual would avoid this factor, but in some cases, this is simply not possible. While an individual cannot avoid growing older, there are some ways to limit exposure to risk factors that may lower a person’s risk of certain types of cancer. In some cases, these factors are entirely preventable, but others cannot. So it’s important to remember that the prevention of a given risk factor does not prevent the onset of any disease or condition.
The relationship between cause and effect is often difficult to define, but we often wonder if we can attribute an illness to a particular factor. In science, this is the concept of causation. The concept of causation can either praise a desirable outcome or blame it for an undesirable one. In epidemiology, this notion of causation is frequently referred to as a “risk factor” to describe a factor that increases the risk of developing an illness.