Risk Factors

Heart Attack – Risk factors

The patients suffering from unstable angina or Prinzmetal’s variant angina definitely have greater chances of suffering from heart attack. The presence of multiple coronary risk factors which favors the formation of atheromatous plaque in the coronary arteries also increases the risk. Cocaine abuse, collagen vascular disorders may also increase the risk for heart attack.

The insufficient blood supply to heart muscles usually results from narrowing of the artery (i.e. coronary artery). Deposition of lipid (fat) can cause thickening of the internal layer of the coronary artery leading to narrowing of its lumen (inner cavity). This process is known as atherosclerosis. Some of the factors which may hasten the process of atherosclerosisare:

  • Age – The risk of coronary artery disease tends to increase with age.
  • Sex– It is more common in males. At a younger age (before menopause) the female hormones tend to protect women from coronary artery disease.
  • Family history- The chances of suffering from CHD are increased if any of the close relatives had CHD at early age (below 50 years). Genetic factors, common dietary or smoking habits may be the cause for  this increased susceptibility.
  • Smoking– Smoking is a serious risk factor for CHD. In fact, the risk is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked per day. The components of cigarette smoke cause the narrowing of the blood vessels  temporarily, besides increasing the chance of clot formation there.
  • High blood pressure-The blood pressure measurement  is a simple method to detect persons at high risk of developing coronary artery disease. The high pressure damages the lining of the arteries and accelerates the process of atherosclerosis. Moreover, heart has to work hard to pump the blood against increased pressure. This tends to increase the demand for oxygen in the heart muscles (thus, increasing the vulnerability to angina).
  • Serum cholesterol– A rise in serum cholesterol level can hasten the process of atherosclerosis thus, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. High LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol level is associated with The HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol on the other hand, is protective and reduces the risk. In fact, the risk of developing coronary artery disease can be assessed by HDL- LDL ratio.
  • Diabetes-The risk of developing coronary artery disease is two to three times higher in diabetes. Control of blood glucose level decreases the risk of Coronary heart disease.
  • Obesity-It is an important risk factor alone or in association with other risk factors like diabetes high blood pressure, abnormal lipid profile. Pear shaped obesity is known to be associated with heart disease.
  • Alcohol- Heavy drinking (75g or more per day) increases the risk. The protective effect of moderate intake has not been fully substantiated
  • Personality- People with type A personality (hostile, restless and impatient nature) are more prone to heart disease.
  • Lack of physical exercise- Sedentary habits may contribute towards obesity, high blood pressure, increased LDL cholesterol level, thereby, increasing the risk of Coronary heart disease.