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Risk Factors - Heartbeat Trust

Risk Factors for Developing Heart Failure

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

Hypertension is a chronic disease of high blood pressure (BP). It is the commonest risk factor in the community for heart failure and other heart diseases. It is simply diagnosed by the finding of high blood pressure readings over an extended period of time (24 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring).
It is not curable but can be controlled. In the majority of cases no cause can be found as to why people get high blood pressure.

Management of high blood pressure is often a combination of lifestyle intervention and medications. Healthy lifestyle factors are critical. Even when taking drugs for high blood pressure, adherence to good habits on diet, exercise, smoking cessation and avoiding excess alcohol are essential.
Taking blood pressure medications help to reduce the high blood pressure and maintain the control. It is important to take your blood pressure medication as prescribed.
It is also important, even though you may be feeling well, that you do not miss taking your tablets, as it is your tablets that are keeping you well.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol control guidelines differ depending on one’s risk factors.

Best practice when cholesterol is being treated is to know the breakdown of the HDL and LDL.

Treatment of elevated cholesterol, both in terms of whether to treat and how aggressively to treat, depend on the individual’s risk profile for heart and blood vessel disease.

When cholesterol is measured it is broken down into 4 results:

  1. Total cholesterol which is the total cholesterol circulating in the body
  2. High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) or ‘happy’ cholesterol, which is a measurement of the good cholesterol. When this is high it can help reduce the LDL
  3. Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or ‘lousy’ cholesterol, which is a measurement of saturated fat
  4. Triglycerides are the store of unused calories and provide the body with energy


Diabetes is a chronic disease of constant high levels of glucose in the blood stream due to abnormal insulin level and activity. Prolonged high levels of blood glucose can affect the health of blood vessels, which in turn could affect any or all the organs in the body. Diabetes can also have long-term effects on the heart muscle function.
There is no cure for diabetes, but it can be managed. Ensure your blood glucose is well control with daily checks and the HbA1c level with your doctor. This can be done by maintaining a normal healthy weight and taking your diabetic medications as prescribed.

Patient Testimonials

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“It is indeed so very reassuring to know that we have excellent doctors such as Prof McDonald and his team working on our behalf.’

“As a spouse of a stroke survivor, tonight talks made me more aware of the actions I need to take for my own health as well as that of my husbands.”

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“While on the research programme it was discovered I had too much hormone. Then I was sent to the Endocrinology team in SVUH for many tests. I was diagnosed to have a growth in my pituitary and acromegaly. I had surgery in Beaumont Hospital to remove the growth. I am so grateful to the Heartbeat Trust for finding this and sending me to have it researched and treated.

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