Some risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, while others cannot. The good news is that for most risk factors, you can do something about them. In case you know that you are at higher risk of a heart attack due to circumstances beyond your control, you should pay closer attention to lifestyle factors which you can change in order to cut your risk of heart attack.
Some factors contribute to the unwanted buildup of fatty deposits which narrows arteries throughout your body. You can eliminate or improve many of these risk factors in order to reduce your chances of having a first or subsequent heart attack. Here are the leading risk factors which put you at risk for a heart attack.
Women age 55 or older and men age 45 or older are more likely to have a heart attack compared to younger women and men.
Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke and smoking increase the risk of a heart attack.
High blood pressure
By accelerating atherosclerosis, high blood pressure can damage arteries which feel your heart. High blood pressure which occurs with smoking, obesity, diabetes or high cholesterol increases your risk even more.
High blood cholesterol
A high level of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (or the bad cholesterol) is most likely to narrow arteries. A type of blood fat related to your diet, triglycerides, also ups your risk of heart attack if its level is high. However, a high level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (or the good cholesterol) lowers your risk of heart attack.
A hormone secreted by your pancreas – insulin – allows your body to use glucose, which is a form of sugar. Having diabetes causes your body’s blood sugar levels to rise. Diabetes increases your risk of heart attack, especially if it is uncontrolled.
Family history of heart attack
If your grandparents, parents or siblings have had early heart attacks (by age 65 for female relatives and age 55 for male relatives), you may be at increased risk.
Lack of physical activity
An inactive lifestyle contributes to obesity and high blood cholesterol levels. People who are physically active have better cardiovascular fitness, which decreases their risk of having a heart attack. Regular aerobic exercise also lowers high blood pressure.
Obesity is associated with high triglyceride levels, diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. However, by losing just 10% of your body weight, you can lower the risk.
A person can respond to stress in ways which can increase the risk of a heart attack.
Illegal drug use
Using stimulant drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine, can trigger a spasm of your coronary arteries, which can cause a heart attack.
A history of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and also increases the lifetime risk of heart disease.
A history of an autoimmune condition
Conditions, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, can increase your risk of a heart attack.