Heart Attack Risks You Can Control

  • Posted on: Jun 22 2019
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Are there things that can be done to lower the chances of having a heart attack?

Someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds…

Myocardial infarctions, more commonly known as heart attacks, are the result of a loss or decrease of blood flow to the heart. Like any other muscle, if the heart does not receive an adequate amount of oxygen-carrying blood, it will begin to die.

The heart is constantly filled with blood that is destined to be pumped to all of the other parts of the body. The heart, itself, also requires a continual source of the nutrients found in blood, but it cannot pull them from the supply within its own chambers. Branching off of the aorta are the coronary arteries which return blood to the heart for its own nourishment. A blockage in one or more of the coronary arteries is what causes a heart attack.

Atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, is the name given to the condition in which the arteries become blocked by various types of material building up on the vessel walls. This buildup is called plague and is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, waste materials from the cells and fibrin, which is a key ingredient in clotting. The more buildup, the narrower the artery becomes until the blood flow is significantly restricted, leading to a heart attack. The same result may be due to a piece of plague breaking away and becoming a blood clot which travels to a point where it becomes lodged and blocks the blood flow completely.

Even though heart attacks are extremely frightening and can be fatal, they do not have to be. The quicker the individual seeks treatment the better the chances of reducing damage to the heart muscle.

Lower Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack

Getting yourself or a family member immediate treatment for a suspected heart attack is crucial, but doing what you can to prevent one in the first place is equally important. Your first step will be to become familiar with the risk factors that increase the chances of coronary artery disease. Some of the most common of the these include:

  • Age – risk increases with age and becomes a significant factor for men when they reach 45 and for women at 55.
  • Exposure to tobacco, whether first or secondhand.
  • Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, can cause damage to the coronary arteries.
  • Cholesterol – high levels of LDL, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, can narrow arteries but high levels of HDL, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, actually lowers the risk of artery damage and heart attack.
  • Triglycerides – these are a type of dietary blood fat and high levels increase risk.
  • Obesity – increases risk but the good news is that lowering body weight by as little as 10 percent can reduce risk.
  • Diabetes – diabetics with uncontrolled sugar levels are more likely to have coronary artery damage.
  • Metabolic syndrome – obesity combined with hypertension and diabetes can double the likelihood of developing heart disease.  
  • Genetics – if close family members have had heart attacks, your risk may also be increased.
  • Sedentary lifestyle – regular exercise reduces risk of factors that lead to heart disease.
  • Stress – how your body responds to stressful situations, real or imagined, can affect your chances for having a heart attack.
  • Substance abuse – especially the use of stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines.
  • Preeclampsia – elevated blood pressure during pregnancy can result in ongoing risk of heart disease.
  • Autoimmune diseases – conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, that result in the body attacking itself can increase the possibility of heart attack.

By eliminating or improving those factors under your control, you can protect your arteries and reduce the chance of suffering a heart attack.

At Cardiovascular Wellness, our mission is to provide outstanding, timely and personalized care to all of our patients. We are committed to improving your quality of life by designing a comprehensive plan of heart care, individualized to your needs.

Information on locations and office hours for Cardiovascular Wellness can be found by clicking here.

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