"What can I do to reduce my risk of a cardiac event?"
Some major risk factors cannot be changed.
- Increasing age - Over 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older.
- Gender - Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they tend to have attacks earlier in life.
- Heredity/race - Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and have a higher risk of heart disease.
RISK FACTORS you CAN change:
Some major risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled through lifestyle changes or medicine.
- Tobacco smoke - Smokers' risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2–4 times that of nonsmokers.
- High blood cholesterol - As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
- High blood pressure - High blood pressure increases the heart's workload, causing the heart to thicken and stiffen, and later on causing the heart to weaken and fail.
- Physical inactivity - Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease.
- Obesity - People who have excess body fat - especially if concentrated around the waist - are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have no other risk factors.
- Diabetes mellitus - Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. About three-quarters of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
- Stress - Some scientists have noted relationships between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person's life, health behaviors and socioeconomic status. The presence of stress may increase the levels of additional risk factors. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would.
- Alcohol excess - Drinking alcoholic beverages can raise blood pressure, cause heart failure, and lead to stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, cancer, and other diseases, and can produce irregular heartbeats. It contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents.