Coronary artery disease (heart disease) is the leading cause of heart attacks. Heart disease is caused by the build-up of plaque in your arteries over time. Risk factors for heart disease and the likelihood of a heart attack can include:
Getting older increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men AND women in the United States. Generally, men are at greater risk of coronary artery disease while the risk for women increases after menopause. What was often thought of as a “man’s disease”, heart disease continues to also be a woman’s greatest health threat.
A family history of heart disease is associated with a higher risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a close relative developed heart disease at an early age. Your risk is highest if your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease before age 55 or if your mother or a sister developed it before age 65.
People who smoke have a significantly increased risk of heart disease. Exposing others to your secondhand smoke also increases their risk of coronary artery disease.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the channel through which blood can flow.
High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaque narrowing the arteries (atherosclerosis). High cholesterol can be caused by a high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as the “bad” cholesterol. A low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the “good” cholesterol, can also contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors and can increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis.
Lack of exercise is associated with coronary artery disease and its risk factors.
Unrelieved stress in your life may damage your arteries as well as worsen other risk factors for coronary artery disease.
Eating too much food that has high amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, salt and sugar can increase your risk of coronary artery disease.