Are you a Heart Attack Candidate? Risk Factors and Ways to Protect Yourself

by Dr. David Minkoff November 02, 2016 2 min read

Are you a Heart Attack Candidate? Risk Factors and Ways to Protect Yourself

The statistics on heart disease in the United States are staggering. In a 2014 survey, 27.6 million people in the U.S. reported having a diagnosed heart disease. This was 11% of adults surveyed. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, with 1 in 4 deaths attributed to heart disease.

Heart attacks occur when there is a restricted flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. In most cases, plaque build-up in the arteries is the cause of reduced blood flow. Without prompt medical treatment while experiencing a heart attack, this restricted blood flow causes a portion of the heart muscle to be damaged and begin to deteriorate, which may cause severe and long-lasting health problems. Most heart attacks occur as a result of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Reducing your chances of developing heart disease is key to lessening the likelihood of a life-threatening heart attack.

Risk Factors for Heart Attack

Several factors have been found to heighten your heart attack risk. These factors include age, health, lifestyle, family history and hereditary predispositions. The following are major factors that have been linked to a higher risk of heart attack.

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Use of estrogens
  • Excessive, long-term alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco smoke (smoking)
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Physical Inactivity

Preventative Measures: Preventing Heart Disease and Heart Attack

There are several measures that are recommended in order to prevent heart disease and lower your chances of experiencing a heart attack. Below are a few simple strategies you can begin to incorporate into your life, and the lives of your loved ones, to help fend off heart disease and reduce the risk of a heart attack.

Healthy Diet

A consistently unhealthy diet, rich in saturated and trans fats and sodium, can lead to high blood cholesterol levels, and increase your chances of developing diabetes and high blood pressure. Instead, reduce your consumption of unhealthy fats and sodium, opting for a healthier diet, rich in nutrients and whole grains. The Paleo diet, heavy on protein and healthy fats and low on carbohydrates, is increasingly popular with fitness experts and athletes. Following a Paleo diet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, assist with weight maintenance, help build lean muscle mass and improve your overall health.

Exercise

Not getting enough aerobic exercise and physical activity often contributes to higher blood cholesterol levels and increases your risk of obesity, which can both increase your chances of heart disease and heart attack. Regular aerobic exercise helps promote healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels and a healthy heart!

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and smoking can drastically increase your chances of heart disease and heart attack. Smoking, as well as long-term exposure to second-hand smoke, can increase your risk of heart attack. The use of illegal drugs, such as stimulant drugs like cocaine or amphetamines, can increase your risk of heart attack. These drugs can trigger spasms of the coronary arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.