Knowing if you’re at risk for a heart attack is the first step in taking measures to reduce that risk.
The most prevalent cause of a heart attack is plaque formation in the coronary arteries. Plaque builds up over time, delaying or obstructing blood flow to the heart muscle. There is no single reason for any cardiac issue, but there are risk factors that can raise your chances of getting one. When trying to determine your risk of having a heart attack, it’s vital to remember that some things that contribute you your risk you can control and others you can’t. Certain aspects, such as age, cannot be changed. Other factors, like food and exercise, can be changed.
Things You Can’t Change that Increase Your Risk
Growing older increases the likelihood of clogged and damaged arteries, as well as a weakening or thickening heart muscle, all of which lead to heart disease. The majority of heart attack deaths occur in those aged 65 and higher, with a man’s risk of dying from a heart attack beginning at 45 and a woman’s risk beginning at 55.
Men are at a higher risk of having a heart attack, while women are more likely to suffer symptoms other than chest pain, such as exhaustion and nausea. However, after menopause, women’s risk of heart disease increases.
Family history may be able to foretell early issues. Consult a doctor if your father or brother was diagnosed with coronary heart disease when they were 55 years old or younger (65 years old for your mother or sister).
Things You CAN Change
Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.
Heart attacks are more common in people who smoke than in those who don’t. Smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely than nonsmokers to acquire cardiovascular disease and 2 to 3 times more likely to die from it, according to the American Heart Association. Regular or excessive alcohol consumption can elevate blood pressure, cause heart failure, and result in a stroke. If you really must drink alcohol, do it in moderation.
Unhealthy eating habits.
High-fat, high-salt and high-cholesterol diets can all contribute to the development of heart disease.
High blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can harden and thicken your arteries, narrowing the tubes through which blood flows. Plaque development and atherosclerosis are both increased by high cholesterol levels in the blood. Plaques can be caused by a high level of LDL or a low level of HDL.
Diabetes raises your chances of developing heart disease. If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s critical to work with your doctor to control your blood glucose levels and lower your risk of a heart attack.
Other risk factors are usually exacerbated by excess weight. People with considerable body fat are more likely to develop heart disease. The good news is that if you’re overweight or obese, decreasing just 3 to 5% of your current body weight will considerably reduce some heart disease risk factors. More weight loss may result in even better outcomes.
Inactivity on the physical level.
A lack of exercise is linked to a variety of heart problems. Preventing heart and vascular disease necessitates regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise. The higher the benefits to the cardiovascular system, the more strenuous the activity. Exercise has been demonstrated to help reduce blood cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity, as well as lower blood pressure. A significant spasm, or tightening, of a coronary artery, is less likely to induce a heart attack.
High levels of anxiety.
Unresolved stress in your life might harm your arteries and exacerbate other heart disease risk factors. Stress has an impact on everyone. It’s a part of what it means to be human, to be alive, and to interact with the rest of the world. How we respond to stress has an impact on our health, specifically the risk of heart disease. Learn some ways to help you manage your stress reaction if you believe you are suffering from chronic stress.
Medications used to treat heart failure.
Certain medications have the potential to harm the heart and raise the risk of heart failure. Heart failure is increased by long-term usage of high-dose anabolic steroids (male hormones used to grow muscular bulk). Some cancer and chemotherapy medicines can put you at risk for heart failure years after you’ve finished treatment. The cardiac muscle can be damaged by cancer radiation therapy to the chest.
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