Around 8,000 people die from a heart attack in Australia each year, which is almost 20 every day. Recognizing the heart attack risk factors is important when it comes to minimizing the chances of being one of those statistics, although some factors simply can’t be controlled.
We all know that smoking is bad for us; it’s also one of the highest risk factors for a heart attack. If you smoke you are several times more likely to suffer a heart attack, as it adversely affects the arteries and increases the chance of blood clots. High blood pressure is another risk factor, and high blood pressure also makes it more likely you’ll have a stroke or kidney failure. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and having less salt in your diet can all help to keep your blood pressure level lower. And making sure you aren’t overweight can also help to minimise the risk of having a heart attack at some point. The chances of a heart attack are much higher for anyone with too much body fat, especially around the mid section.
You also have a higher risk of a heart attack if your cholesterol levels are too high, and transitioning to a healthier diet can help. There are plenty of low cholesterol diets that don’t mean giving up everything you like to eat, and that incorporate tasty meals; one of the most popular is the Mediterranean diet. Along with a poor diet, a lack of exercise is a major risk factor too and if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you are also more likely to experience a heart attack. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym; just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, several days a week can make a difference.
Some heart attack risk factors are simply beyond your control, although it helps to at least be aware of them. Statistically, men have more chance of having a heart attack than women, especially earlier in life. If your family has a history of heart trouble or if you are of African, Asian or Mexican descent you also have higher chance of having a heart attack at some point. In general, heart attacks are more common as we get older, as the risk factors tend to increase along with the other unwanted signs of aging. Your risk of heart disease or a heart attack is also a lot higher if you have type 2 diabetes, although of course it can help to make sure you monitor and control your blood sugar levels.