10 9 Risk Factors

What is a risk factor?
A risk factor is something that makes you at a higher chance of getting a disease. It can be a behavior or a condition that affects one’s health and well-being.

Examples of risk factors can be smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. Although these factors seem to be precise and individual, they happen due to a chain of events that include other factors. For example lack of exercise causes obesity which in turn causes high blood pressure and so on.


Generally, risk factors can be categorized into the following:


—>Behavioural risk factors:
These risk factors are the ones that we can control most as they represent the actions we choose to take.
Examples include:
+unprotected sexual activity
+lack of exercise
+over consumption of alcohol

—>Physiological risk factors:
These are related to the human body
Examples include:
+High blood cholesterol
+High blood pressure
+High blood sugar

—>Demographic risk factors:
These don’t relate to specific individuals but to the overall population
Examples include:
+gender: women are more likely to have iron deficiency(pregnancy)
+age: malnutrition in children, cancer rates are higher in adults
+population subgroups (occupation, religion, income): Income matters as clean water, a healthy diet, and protected sex are much more accessible if a person is financially stable.

—>Environmental risk factors:
These include social, economic, cultural, political, and chemical factors
Examples include:
+Risk in the workplace
+Social pollution
+Air pollution
+Access to clean water and sanitation

—>Genetic risk factors:
These factors are based on the individual’s genes. Examples include genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy. Other diseases like asthma or diabetes reflect the interaction between the genes and the individual and environmental factors.


=>Choose Healthy Habits!

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels average and lower your heart disease and heart attack risk.

*You can opt for health practices to help avoid heart disease.
*Choose healthy meals and snacks to help prevent heart disease and its complications.
*Be sure to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer artificial food.
*Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol can help evade high cholesterol.
*Limiting salt in your diet can also lower your blood pressure.
*Restricting sugar in your diet can lessen your blood sugar level to escape or help regulate diabetes.
*Do not drink too much alcohol, which can elevate your blood pressure.
*Keep a Healthy Weight; people with overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease. Carrying additional weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.
*Physical activity can help you conserve a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like cycling. Children and adolescents should get 1 hour of physical activity daily.
*Don’t Smoke as it augments your risk for heart disease. Quitting will lower your risk of heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you abandon.
*Take Charge of Your Medical Conditions
*Know yourself: Track your family history and notice how factors like gender, age, race, and ethnicity can affect your disease weakness and the quality of your care.


Risk factors or determinants are correlational and not necessarily causal correlation does not prove causation. For example, you cannot say being young causes measles, but young people have a higher rate of measles because they are less likely to have developed immunity during a previous epidemic.

To prove cause evidence, we usually use statistical methods to enforce an association and provide causal evidence. We can take for example the many studies made on the link between smoking and lung cancer. Statistical analysis, along with the biological sciences, can establish that risk factors are causal.

Some prefer to use the term causal determinants of increased rates of disease to talk about risk factors, but there is a possibility for unproven links to be created and to be called causes of a disease when we can only talk about possible risks, associations, etc.

When done thoughtfully and based on research, the identification of risk factors can be a strategy for medical screening.


To which extent disease risk factors may assist in the diagnostic process?

The answer to this question is variable, and share a lot of different point of view. But we can all agree to say that risk factors have to be not very sensitive or specific. These factors may be further reduced if the risk factor is related to more than one illness having the same clinical presentation as the disease of interest. It is also possible that the risk factor disappears with the onset of illness. We can illustrate these points, for example, in a discussion of the utility of smoking as a diagnostic test for malignancy.

Risk factors hold great promise as aids to medical diagnosis, as this information is highly accessible to clinicians at little or no cost and almost immediately. Clinicians and medical staff, however, should be very cautious when using the utility of risk factors of unproven diagnostic in medical diagnosis, as their presence may have little or no effect on disease probability.

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