age, cholesterol, coronary risk factors, exercise, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, lipids, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking



  1. Gulanick, Meg PhD, RNC, CS
  2. Cofer, Lynn Adam MSN, RN, LNC


Risk factors for cardiovascular disease have been defined by various groups and experts for decades. Unfortunately, the lack of consensus among these groups and the periodic changes in risk factor listings have led to confusion among health care professionals. Because so many risk factors inter-relate, it is difficult to isolate the effect of a specific risk factor on the lipid profile. In an effort to eliminate some of the confusion, this article describes the known effects of physical inactivity, obesity, cigarette smoking, age, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus on lipids and lipoproteins. A summary of the known results is displayed in a table. Because of the complexity of the atherosclerotic disease process and the multifactorial influences on lipid metabolism, this remains an exciting and challenging area for research.