11 Heart Attack Risks You Should Know
Understanding your heart attack risks can help prevent you from having one. When it comes to heart attacks, there are factors you can control and others you cannot. In this blog, we are diving into the risk factors for heart attacks. Hopefully, by the end of this, you will learn more about what to do to stay as healthy as possible.
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds and every year, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack (4). It is important to note that there are several health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and other habits such as smoking that can also contribute to a heart attack. These include…
1. An unhealthy lifestyle
Eating a healthier diet, regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stress can help improve your heart health and overall quality of life (1). Eating well does more than just help you maintain a healthy weight, it has been shown it can help with dealing with stress. It is never too late to change your lifestyle and eating habits!
2. High blood pressure
High blood pressure is known to damage the arteries leading to your heart. When high blood pressure is present alongside obesity, it can put you at even higher risk (2). This is because high blood pressure increases your heart’s workload and this makes the heart muscle thicken and become stiffer (5). Luckily, there are a ton of resources to help lower your numbers from healthy food recipes to relaxing medication. Find out what healthy habit works best for you and your heart and stick with it.
Obesity is linked to high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes. Losing just 10% of your body weight can lower your risk (2). Many people may find it difficult to lose weight but by learning healthy eating and doing more physical activity, you can help keep your heart healthier longer.
4. High cholesterol
When your blood cholesterol level rises, so can your risk of a heart attack. “Bad” cholesterol (also known as Low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) is known to narrow arteries and prevent blood flow, leading to heart disease and strokes. On the contrary, high levels of “good” cholesterol (known as High-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol) can lower your risk of a heart attack (2). Keeping your LDL low can be done if you reduce saturated fats, eat more omega-3 fatty acids and increase your fiber intake (3).
Diabetes can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, which can cause heart attacks. People with diabetes do not produce enough insulin and not responding to insulin properly causes your body’s blood sugar levels to rise (2). It is best to work with your physician to help manage your blood sugar.
6. Your age
Your risk for a heart attack increases as you age. Men ages 45 or older and women age 55 or older are more likely to have a heart attack than are younger men and women (2).
7. Family history
If your siblings, parents, or grandparents have had early heart attacks, you might be at increased risk (2). This makes it more likely for you to develop it yourself and it is something you cannot control.
8. Stress or other intense emotions
Studies have shown that both intense anger and grief can occasionally trigger a heart attack (4). It is important to find ways you can relax whether that is through meditation, listening to calming music, or exercise, finding a way to let go and relax can help lower your risk and improve your overall health.
9. Sudden physical activity
Random and tough physical activity to your body can lead to a heart attack if you are not physically fit already (3). Starting at a slow pace is the best option when working out or trying a new activity. You do not want to overwork your heart. Warming up and/or stretching before a workout is also a healthy habit to do.
10. Extreme cold
Did you know cold temperatures can increase your blood pressure? This occurs because the heart arteries tighten when it is cold. Combining this with physical activity, and the strain may be too much for some hearts to take (3). Every year, shoveling snow sends more than 11,000 people to the hospital — at least 7% with heart trouble (3). If you live in the Midwest, you most likely need to shovel every year. Dressing appropriately in water-resistant layers and gloves can help you stay warm while doing activities in the cold.
11. Eating a heavy meal
No one knows exactly why this occurs when eating a heavy meal, but we do know that eating redirects blood away from the heart and pushes it toward the GI tract, which is problematic to individuals already at risk for a heart attack (3). Limiting your caloric intake overall and avoiding binging on large meals can help lower your risk.
Certain lifestyle choices can put you at a greater risk for a heart attack. But remember, it is never too late to take the steps necessary to prevent a heart attack- even if you’ve already had one. Practicing new healthier habits can benefit you far more than only lowering your risk of a heart attack.
This blog is made for educational purposes only as well as general information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your physician/doctor. Always consult your physician for specific medical advice.