These are the seven risks of a heart attack:
- Family History: Ask your parents, siblings and find out if they or anyone else in the family had a heart attack or coronary artery disease. Be specific many people can have “Heart Problems,” but you must ask about heart attack or coronary artery disease. Even if extended family members (aunts uncles, cousins) have had a heart attack, you may still be at risk of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
- High blood pressure: Studies done in New England in the 1970’s have shown a direct correlation of high blood pressure and the subsequent risk of strokes and a heart attack. Controlling high blood pressure is imperative in preventing not only a heart attack but also a stroke. Blood pressure has two readings –a higher number(systolic) and a lower number(diastolic). A higher number greater than 140 and or a lower number greater than 95 measured three separate times indicates hypertension.
- Diabetes: This disease affects every organ of the body. All the arteries of the body are susceptible to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is an enexoriable process that starts with accumulation of lipids in between the wall of the arteries ( there are 3 walls to an artery). Indeed, atherosclerosis is defined as the abnormal deposition of lipids in the arterial walls. Diabetes is the abnormal accummulation of sugars in the blood stream. Organs such as eyes, kidneys, arteries, and peripheral nervous system all become damaged by diabetes. The arteries of the heart are particularly susceptible to damage. Damage to these arteries can lead to a premature atherosclerosis and subsequently to heart attack. Because diabetes can affect the nervous system, a diabetic person having a heart attack may not feel any pain!
- High saturated fat & higher cholesterol diet: This is the source of the lipid which accummulates in the arteries abnormally, (the athersoclerosis process). Reducing lipid and fat in your diet can directly reduces the atherosclerosis process. But diet is not enough. The serum lipids must be checked periodically to verify the decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides. Scrupulous attention to diet and its secondary effect on the blood lipid levels are crucial steps in avoiding heart attack. If the blood lipid values are elevated despite best attempts at reducing cholesterol and fat in the diet, then seek attention of your doctor. He/she may need to start you on a medication to reduce your cholesterol.
- Sedentary life style: Lack of exercise has been shown to increase the atherosclerotic process. In fact, an inactive individual is twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as one who remains even moderately active.
- Smoking: Smoking accelerates the atherosclerotic process by four to five times normal., therby increasing the risk of a heart attack four times that of a nonsmoker. Remember passive smoking is in some studies more harmful than smoking directly. Now there is a new defined entity: third hand smoking. This is the emanation of smoke residue that gets absorbed into furniture, walls and carpeting. The best solution: DON’T SMOKE!
- Narcotic Drugs: Methamphetamines and cocaine are both known to cause a heart attack. These heart attacks are often massive causing the victim (the drug user) to die before ever reaching the hospital. If the patient does make it to the Emergency Department, he/she has usually suffered a massive heart attack that renders them forever disabled from heart failure. DON’T DO DRUGS!
Identification of these risk factors is just one of the actions you can take to avoid a heart attack. Seek the attention of your Doctor; discuss with your Doctor all of your risk factors. Let your Doctor make the plan to prevent a heart disaster.
Immediately call your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms: Chest discomfort of any kind, shortness of breath, arm pain, dyspnea, swelling, and dizziness.