Are you at risk for a heart attack?February 2, 2015
Right now, thousands of people across the United States are at risk for a heart attack. Are you one of them? Knowing your own personal risk of having a cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke can be lifesaving.
It is important to measure your risk and make a plan for how to prevent it. There are three types of risk factors that are critical to understanding your risk: major risk factors, contributing risk factors and modifiable risk factors.
Major risk factors
These factors are based on extensive clinical and statistical studies that have been shown to considerably increase the risk of heart disease. These include factors that cannot be changed such as heredity, if you are a male or if you are 65 years of age or older.
Modifiable risk Factors
Other major risk factors include high blood cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, an inactive lifestyle, obesity or diabetes. These factors can be modified or controlled through a conversation with your physician.
Contributing risk Factors
Stress, over consumption of alcohol and poor diet and nutrition are all factors that contribute to heart disease according the American Heart Association. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle combined with well-rounded nutrition and diet has shown to decrease your risk of heart disease.
Additional risk factors
Previous cardiac events or heart disease put you at an increased risk of having another. High blood pressure, severe lung disease, diabetes and sleep apnea also increase your risk of a heart attack.
Heart attack risks myths busted
Myth 1: A common cardiac myth is that if you have heart disease or are at risk of a heart attack or cardiac event that you need to slow down and take it easy. Over the past several years, cardiologists have learned extensively about what causes heart attacks, and remaining sedentary, unless advised by a medical professional, is not recommended. Instead, meet with your cardiologist to discuss what kind of active lifestyle is right for you.
Myth 2: “I’m going to have a heart attack because my father, grandmother, uncle, and sister had a heart attack.” Although your risk for a heart attack increases based on your family history, meeting with your doctor can help you understand your specific risks and ways to reduce that risk.
Myth 3: Another cardiac myth is that it’s okay to have higher blood pressure when you’re older. While blood pressure does rise with age, this doesn’t mean that it’s okay for your body. Stiff arteries force the heart to pump your blood harder, and the overworked heart muscle can become damaged.
If you someone you know has these risk factors and is not currently seeking the advice of a health care provider, encourage them to do so. Together you and your doctor can create a plan to prevent or manage your risk factors.