The American Heart Association declares every February as American Heart Month. It is important that you learn the risk factors of having a heart attack and learn the steps to prevent them.
The six major risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, being overweight, being physically inactive, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. All of these put you at an increased risk of having a heart attack.
The American Heart Association website states that smoking increases your risk by 2 to 4 times of getting coronary heart disease. If you stop smoking you will decrease your chances of heart disease.
If you are a non-smoker who is around cigarette smoke your risk is also increased.
High blood pressure
Having high blood pressure makes your heart work much harder and increases heart attack risk. Studies indicate that about 1/3 of adults living in the US have high blood pressure. You can lower your blood pressure by medication, losing weight, reducing sodium intake, exercising and adapting a healthy diet.
You can get more facts on high blood pressure here on the American Heart association website.
High blood cholesterol
Having high cholesterol can cause blockages in your heart that lead to a heart attack. Cholesterol actually builds up in all of your arteries making it very difficult for oxygen and blood to get to your heart. You can lower your cholesterol by decreasing the amount of saturated fat you eat, exercising and losing weight. Cholesterol medications are some times needed if diet and exercise are not enough.
Having diabetes greatly increases your heart attack risk.
In fact, the National Diabetes Information Clearing house (NDIC) states If you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as someone who does not have diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke. It is extremely important for anyone with diabetes to keep there insulin levels under control through diet and exercise.
Being overweight or obese
Being overweight increases the stress on the heart. Being overweight also greatly increases your chances for developing high blood pressure and diabetes in the future.
Being physically inactive increases your chance for having high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Regularly exercise will increase your overall heart health will decreasing other risks factors at the same time. Doing regular aerobic or cardiovascular activities will help you strengthen your heart. Bicycling, walking and jogging are all great aerobic exercises.