Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease
Major risk factors significantly increase the chance of developing coronary artery disease. Some risk factors can be changed and controlled, while others can’t. Those that cannot be changed are:
People whose parents have coronary artery disease are more likely to develop it. African Americans also are at increased risk because they experience a higher rate of severe hypertension than whites.
Men are more likely to have heart attacks than women and to have them at a younger age. Over age 60, however, women have coronary artery disease at a rate equal to that of men.
Men who are 45 years of age and older and women who are 55 years of age and older are more likely to have coronary artery disease. Occasionally, coronary disease may strike a person in the 30s. Older people (those over 65) are more likely to die of a heart attack. Older women are twice as likely as older men to die within a few weeks of a heart attack.
African Americans are at higher risk for early death and have higher mortality rates from cardiovascular problems in general. AfricanAmerican women with coronary artery disease are more likely to have a heart attack than Caucasian women.
• Ethnicity weighs heavily in your likelihood of developing coronary artery disease.
Major risk factors that can be changed are:
Smoking increases both the chance of developing coronary artery disease and the chance of dying from it. Smokers are two to four times more likely than are non-smokers to die of sudden heart attack. They are more than twice as likely as non-smokers to have a heart attack. They also are more likely to die within an hour of a heart attack. Second hand smoke also may increase risk.
Dietary sources of cholesterol are meat, eggs, and other animal products. The body also produces it. Age, sex, heredity, and diet affect one's blood cholesterol. Total blood cholesterol is considered high at levels above 240 mg/dL and borderline at 200-239 mg/dL. High-risk levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) begin at 130-159 mg/dL, depending on other risk factors. Risk of developing coronary artery disease increases steadily as blood cholesterol levels increase above 160 mg/dL. When a person has other risk factors, the risk multiplies.
High blood pressure makes the heart work harder and weakens it over time. It increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure. A blood pressure of 140 over 90 or above is considered high. As the numbers rise, high blood pressure goes from Stage 1 (mild) to Stage 4 (very severe). In combination with obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, or diabetes, high blood pressure raises the risk of heart attack or stroke several times.
Lack of exercise increases the risk of coronary artery disease. Even modest physical activity, like walking, is beneficial if done regularly.
The risk of developing coronary artery disease is seriously increased for diabetics. More than 80% of diabetics die of some type of heart or blood vessel disease.
• High cholesterol—
• High blood pressure—
• Lack of physical activity—
• Diabetes mellitus—