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Healtheuniversity > English > Cardiac College > Treat Heart Disease > Risk Factors > Emerging Risk Factors

Emerging Risk Factors

While there are many known risk factors for heart disease, research is ongoing to identify other possible risk factors. Identifying new (or emerging) risk factors can help to explain why some people are more likely to develop these diseases.

Research has identified the following emerging risk factors. More research and evidence are needed to confirm if these emerging risk factors are linked to the development of heart disease.

  • High C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels. CRP is a protein associated with inflammation found in the blood.
  • Infection. Viruses and other infectious agents may harm blood vessel walls, starting the plaque building process. Some examples of viral infections include flu, COVID-19, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
  • Gum disease (a serious infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place) may be associated with heart disease.
  • Sleep. Sleep conditions include chronic sleep deprivation and sleep apnea. Learn more about how sleep can affect your health »
  • Loneliness. Mental or emotional discomfort some people may experience from either being alone or feeling as though you are alone.
  • Air pollution. Air pollution happens when many pollutants (substances that are harmful to your health) are in the air. Air pollution may also cause angina, irregular heartbeats, light-headedness, or dizziness.
  • Frailty. The state of being more likely to become hurt, injured, or sick because of a decrease in your energy level and function as you get older.
  • Social Determinants of Health. Your health is determined by many factors including income; employment; race; sexual orientation; access to education, food, housing, social services, and health services; among many other factors. Learn more at: (opens in new window)​ »


While men and women share some of the same risk factors for heart disease, there are also women-specific risk factors.

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