Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, is the of mortality in America. The good news is that with proper self-care and medical counsel, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing this condition.

A large number of Americans are unsure about whether they might have an increased chance of developing heart disease. Use the list of potential factors below to see whether you yourself could be at risk for heart disease.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing heart disease than the general population, according to the . That’s because having diabetes often means your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are higher than average.

If you have diabetes, your doctor should be examining you regularly for warning signs, and you should be taking care to eat well and stay physically active.

Family history

The risk for heart disease is linked to genetics, so it’s a good idea to talk to your family and get a better picture of your medical history. If someone in your family has had a heart attack, stroke, or any form of heart disease, you should inform your doctor.

Keep in mind that having a family history of the condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop heart disease. It just means you need to be extra vigilant about avoiding things that may cause it.

Diet

Your diet plays a very big role in your risk of developing heart disease. If eating healthy isn’t something that concerns you, it may be time to think again. Eating a diet high in salt, trans fat, and saturated fat may make you more susceptible.

You should strive to have a balance of fruit, vegetables, starches, fats, and proteins at every meal, and try to avoid eating foods with added sugar and sodium whenever possible.

Exercise

How physically active you are is also a major factor in determining your risk for heart disease. If you live a sedentary lifestyle and don’t exercise regularly, your risk of heart disease may be higher. The recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobics, such as walking or cycling for all adults every week. Two nonconsecutive days of strength or resistance training are also recommended.

Weight

Another important consideration regarding your risk of heart disease is your weight. of American adults is overweight or obese, and if you’re one of them you may be putting yourself at risk.

Being overweight can raise both your blood pressure and your cholesterol. It may also increase your chances of developing diabetes or having a heart attack. Set weight loss goals for yourself, and talk to your doctor about creating an action plan for getting down to your target weight.

Stress

Your levels of stress can add to your risk of developing heart disease as well. In addition to raising your blood pressure, long-term stress may also contribute to other risk factors such as physical inactivity and excessive eating, drinking, or smoking.

Stress can be managed relatively easily with breathing and muscle relaxation techniques, so look up some of these exercises on the internet. You can also ask your doctor to recommend some, if you think they might be beneficial to you.

Smoking

In addition to being extremely harmful to your lungs, smoking greatly increases your chances of developing heart disease. The chemicals in cigarettes cause damage to your blood cells, blood vessels, and the function of your heart.

If you’ve been looking for a good reason to quit, heart disease is it. There are a number of support services and treatment methods available for people trying to quit smoking, so check online or talk to your doctor for more information.

The takeaway

If you think you might be affected by one of the risk factors mentioned above, don’t panic. It’s never too late to start taking steps to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Try your best to eat healthy and stay active, and consult your doctor about other preventative measures that could work well for you.