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Get Heart Smart

A heart attack is a terrifying experience, and one we all wish to avoid. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. This equals about 805,000 heart attacks every year. 1 in 5 of these heart attacks are silent, meaning the person isn't even aware they've had one.

Nearly half of those who die from heart attacks each year never showed prior symptoms of heart disease. Right now, millions of people over age 40 are suffering from heart disease and don't even know it. However, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of heart disease or a heart attack. Knowing your risk can you help you prevent a future heart attack.

Don’t be caught off guard. Know your risk!

Risk factors that you can't control:

  • Increasing age: most people who die of coronary artery disease are 65 years of age or older.
  • Male gender: men have a greater risk of heart attack than women. Men also tend to have heart attacks at a younger age than women.
  • Heredity: children whose parents had heart disease are more likely to develop heart disease themselves. African-Americans have a higher risk of high blood pressure, increasing their risk of heart disease. Mexican-Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian-Americans have a higher risk of heart disease due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

Major risk factors you can modify, treat, or control:

  • Tobacco smoke: smokers are at a much higher risk of developing heart disease than nonsmokers.
  • High blood cholesterol: when blood cholesterol rises, your risk of heart disease significantly increases. Cholesterol levels are calculated from your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol), and triglycerides.
  • High blood pressure: high blood pressure increases the heart's workload, which can cause the muscle surrounding the heart to thicken and become stiffer. This can cause the heart to function abnormally.
  • Physical inactivity: regular moderate to vigorous exercise helps reduce the risk of heart disease and can help control cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Obesity: those with excess body fat are more likely to develop heart disease, even if they don't have other risk factors.
  • Diabetes: diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, even if your glucose levels are under control.

Other risk factors that contribute to heart disease:

  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Diet & nutrition