Heart attack occurs due to narrowing of blockage of blood vessels of heart. There are several risk factors which can cause or promote narrowing or blockage of these blood vessels and leading to heart attack.
There are many heart disease risk factors that can be controlled. By making changes in lifestyle, risk for heart disease can be reduced.
Controllable risk factors include:
- Smoking: Smokers have more than twice the risk for heart attack as nonsmokers. Smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke damage the interior walls of arteries (Blood vessel). Smoking also increases the risk of blood clots forming and causing a heart attack.
- Elevated total and LDL cholesterol levels and Low HDL cholesterol level: The risk for heart disease increases as the total amount of cholesterol increases. In general, total cholesterol goal should be less than 200 mg/dl; HDL, the good cholesterol, higher than 40 mg/dl in men and 50 mg/dl in women (and the higher the better); and LDL should be less than 130 mg/dl in healthy adults.
- Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity (more than 20% over one's ideal body weight): Excess weight puts significant strain on your heart and worsens several other heart disease risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High C-reactive protein: CRP is a "marker" for inflammation. It has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.
- Uncontrolled stress and anger: Poorly controlled stress and anger can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
There are several other risk factors for heart disease which cannot be controlled.
Uncontrollable risk factors include:
- Male sex
- Older age
- Family history of heart disease
- Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians)