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Understanding Your Risk Factors

There are some risk factors you can't change. These include:

  • Your age, gender and ethnic background
  • Family history
  • Personal health history
  • Height

There are other risk factors you can change and possibly improve your health and fitness. These include:

  • Weight
  • Use of tobacco/nicotine
  • Use of alcohol
  • Physical activity level
  • Stress and how you cope with it
  • Exposure to various health hazards

About Your Health Risk Appraisal

Did your screening include a health risk appraisal? This is a confidential questionnaire that gathers important information about a person's health, then uses that information to predict potential health risks.

The information gathered includes:

  • Lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, exercise habits and seatbelt use.
  • Ethnicity and family medical history, such as family history of heart disease or cancer.
  • Clinical data, which includes the person's current medical conditions.

Why is this information important? Because it all adds up to an outline of your health that can help predict your risk for various medical conditions. For example, a person whose ethnic background is African-American, Hispanic or Native American is at higher risk for developing diabetes. Or if your father had a heart attack at an early age, you might be at greater risk for heart trouble.

Although you can't change your ethnic background or family history, you might be able to take steps to prevent or manage health problems for which you are at greater risk. And you can take action to modify your lifestyle habits. Get more exercise, for instance, to reduce your risk for disease.

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