Coronary artery disease causes roughly 1.2 million heart attacks each year, and more than forty percent of those suffering from a heart attack will die. Even more worrisome, 335,000 people with heart attacks will die in an emergency department or before ever reaching the hospital. According to the American Heart Association, over 7 million Americans have suffered a heart attack in their lifetime.
Because heart disease is so common and often silent until it strikes, it is important to recognize the factors that put you at risk.
What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?
There are several risk factors for heart disease; some are controllable, others are not. 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)
Still, there are many risk factors that can be controlled. By making changes in your lifestyle, you can actually reduce your risk for heart disease. Controllable risk factors include:
- High LDL, or "bad" cholesterol and low HDL, or "good" cholesterol
- Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity (more than 20% over one’s ideal body weight)
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High C-reactive protein
- Uncontrolled stress and anger