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Know your risks: How to prevent a heart attack

Doctor using stethoscope on heart with afib line on heart

February is American Heart Month – a good time to stop and think about your lifestyle and your risk when it comes to heart attacks, stroke and other health issues. Do you know the risk factors for a heart attack? Do you know your numbers? Do you know how to prevent the leading cause of death in both men and women?

The American Heart Association breaks down risk factors into three categories: Major risk factors, modifiable risk factors and contributing risk facts. Each level could impact your heart health

elderly person with stethoscope on chest, doctor checking heart rate

Major risk factors

Major risk factors are your biological factors that can’t be changed. This has to do with age, gender and genes.

  • Most people who die of a heart attack are over the age of 65
  • Men are at greater risk of a heart attack than women
  • Children whose parents died from heart disease are more likely to develop it too
  • African-Americans have a greater risk due to high rates of hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Heart disease risk goes up in people with higher rates of obesity and diabetes
Closeup of man smoking cigarette

Modifiable risk factors

Modifiable risk factors are elements that you have some control over. These could be things like whether or not you smoke, your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

  • Smoking on top of having other risk factors can greatly increase your chance of death from heart disease
  • High cholesterol numbers increase your chance for heart disease and heart attacks
  • High blood pressure puts more work on the heart, which can ultimately increase your risk for heart problems
  • Obesity also puts a lot of stress on the heart and can increase your chance of heart attack
  • Having diabetes raises your risk of having heart disease
  • According to the American Heart Association, nearly 70% of people with diabetes over the age of 65 die of some kind of heart disease. Another 16% die of stroke
Businessman stressed and overworked yelling in office

Contributing risk factors

These contributing risk factors may or may not directly affect your risk for heart attack, heart disease and stroke. These are things that may be controlled, but are dire to your overall health.

  • Too much stress can impact your heart health. Read this blog to see just how important it is to manage the stress in your life.
  • Drinking too much alcohol has a big impact on raising blood pressure, which we’ve learned can negatively affect your heart
  • Poor diet or lack of exercise can increase your chance for heart disease
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You’re never too young to worry about having a heart attack, or too old to start making better health choices. By living a healthy lifestyle, getting plenty of physical activity and developing smart eating habits, you can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. Don’t smoke, don’t drink too much and stay up-to-date on your doctor’s exams and physicals to prevent heart problems from catching you off guard. Through the month of February, get a discount on the Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring test to assess your risk for heart attack. This test has saved several people’s lives, and you can get it done with an order from your doctor for only $50.

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