Some risk factors are not controllable, but there are things you can do to decrease your risk of a heart attack. Learn the 5 Common Signs of a Heart Attack so you know when to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Here are 10 things that increase your risk of having a heart attack and some things you can do to decrease your risk.
1. Older Age
The older you get, the more you are at risk of a heart attack. Although you can have a heart attack at any age, the risk increases significantly after age 45 for men and after menopause — around age 50 — for women.
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America; however, men have a greater risk than women of heart attacks. At older ages, women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack.
Your risk of a heart attack increases with a family history of heart disease. Race also has an impact on your risk. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians have higher risks than Caucasians of heart attacks.
One out of five deaths from a heart attack is due to smoking. Smoking cigarettes can double to quadruple your risk of having a heart attack. Risk is higher for smokers because smoking limits the amount of oxygen to your heart, increases blood pressure, damages blood vessels, and increases the likelihood of blood clots. If you are already a smoker, there is still time for you to decrease your risk of heart disease by quitting.
5. High Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol levels in the blood can be affected by uncontrollable factors, but there are things you can do to make sure your cholesterol level is healthy. Get advice from your doctor about how you can lower your cholesterol if needed. Increasing your dietary fiber intake, eating healthy and low-fat foods, and exercising can help lower your cholesterol.
6. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a very common risk factor of heart disease. When your blood pressure is high, it makes your heart have to work harder. This can stiffen the heart muscle and lead to heart attacks. Talk to your doctor to see what you can do to lower your blood pressure. With proper exercise, a low-salt and low-fat diet, limited intake of alcohol, healthy weight, and stress management, your blood pressure may lower.
7. Physical Inactivity
Lack of physical activity can lead to many problems, including heart disease. Visit with your doctor to see what kind of exercise is best for you. On average, people should exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Excess body fat can contribute to higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and a higher risk of heart attacks. A healthy diet and proper exercise are essential for getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. If you are having trouble losing weight, talk with your doctor to find a weight-loss option for you.
Diabetes can have a damaging effect on your heart, especially if it is not controlled. Nearly 68% of diabetics over the age of 65 die from heart disease. Follow your doctor’s care plan and make the proper lifestyle changes to better manage your blood sugar levels.
A negative response to stress can increase the risk of a heart attack. Try out different stress management techniques to see which work for you. Some ways people can de-stress include participating in yoga, breathing exercises, and better time management.
St. Luke’s Health offers a network of emergency services to provide increased access to high-quality care where and when you need it. Find your nearest location.
American Heart Association | Understand Your Risks to Prevent a Heart Attack
WebMD | Risk Factors for Heart Disease
AHA Journals | Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
WebMD | Smoking and Heart Disease
Health | 10 Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Health | 10 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure