10 Factors That Put You At Risk For a Heart Attack

Nearly a million Americans have a heart attack every year in the United States. That’s about one heart attack every 40 seconds on average, according to the CDC.

Fortunately, you can do lots of things to lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, beginning with knowing your risk factors. In this post, Rishin Shah, MDAshley Cooksey, NP, and the team at Prime Heart and Vascular offer 10 surprisingly common risk factors you should know about.

1. Smoking

Tobacco products contain chemicals that damage your blood vessels, making it harder for oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to reach your heart. Smoking also increases plaque formation that leads to atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease and heart attacks.

2. High blood pressure

When blood pressure is higher than normal, it puts extra strain on your organs (including your heart) and your blood vessels. Over time, high blood pressure damages the blood vessel lining, increasing the risks of plaque buildup, atherosclerosis, and heart attacks.

3. High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body needs for normal health and function. If you have too much cholesterol, it builds up in your blood and “sticks” to your blood vessel walls, creating plaques that can lead to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

4. Being overweight or obese

Extra pounds mean your heart needs to work harder to circulate blood, and over time, that added strain increases your risk of heart attacks. Being overweight or obese also increases the risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, three other factors that elevated your risk of having a heart attack.

5. Physical inactivity

Exercise is important for lots of reasons, including improving your heart health. Regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart muscle while also lowering your risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Plus, it helps keep your weight in check and helps you manage your stress levels.

6. Chronic stress

Stress releases hormones that elevate your blood pressure and increase your heart rate. Over time, chronic stress can lead to unhealthy eating behaviors, too — all factors that increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack.

7. Poor diet

Foods high in sugars, salts, and unhealthy fats don’t just lead to weight gain — they increase your risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, too. Eating processed or “fast” foods, processed meats, and foods with artificial sweeteners can increase your heart attack risk, too.

8. Diabetes

With diabetes, your risk of heart disease doubles. Following a personalized diabetes management plan is an essential part of lowering that risk.

9. Older age

Older age is a non-modifiable risk factor because there’s nothing you can do to change how old you are. Still, knowing that your risk of heart attack increases as you get older can help you pay more attention to the modifiable risk factors you can change.

10. Family medical history

A family history of heart disease or heart attack increases your own risk of heart problems, too, particularly if you have a close relative with heart disease. Like age, you can’t change your genetics, but knowing your family history may help you manage your other risk factors more effectively.

Know your risks

Having risk factors for heart disease and heart attack doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have heart problems, but it does mean you should take some extra steps to stay healthy. That includes having regular cardiovascular exams to monitor your health.

To learn more about your own risk factors or to schedule a cardiovascular exam, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Prime Heart and Vascular in Allen, Frisco, or Plano, Texas, today.

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