By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – All a person has to do is take a walk through our major hospitals here in the United States to see the damage that heart disease can do. It is not just a killer; it’s also a major source of illness and disability.

There are certain key risk factors for heart disease. Far and away, number one is cigarette smoking. Smoking dramatically increases the risk of heart problems including myocardial infarction and stroke. Second on the list are metabolic factors, some of which we can control and some we can’t. Here I’m talking about elevations in cholesterol and too much bad cholesterol. Our diet plays a role in this, but our genes contribute. Often, we can tell by our family history who’s at risk.

Other major causes include sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and stress.

Reported By Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio Medical Editor

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