Heart Attack Risk Factors and Symptoms You Should Know

When heart attacks in the family are commonplace in your family tree, it’s definitely time to familiarize yourself with the risk factors and symptoms you need to know. From just getting regular checkups to starting to treat early signs of heart disease proactively, your awareness of potential health issues may help you live a longer, healthier life.

Risk Factors

One of the most telling risk factors is a family history of heart disease. If your parents, grandparents or siblings have encountered issues with cardiac arrest, stroke or, even, high blood pressure, it’s a definite sign that you may encounter the health issue, too.

Age is dominating risk factor, too. Men who are age 45 or older are more at risk for heart disease and heart attacks. Women who are 55 and older are at higher risk.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol counts are indicators that you may be more at risk.

Having diabetes or an autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis or lupus) causes you to be at a higher risk for heart disease.

But, there are many other risk factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Many are lifestyle related.

  • Tobacco use: Studies have proven that smoking or using other forms of tobacco will increase your chances for developing heart disease. Additionally, long-term exposure to second-hand smoke makes you more at risk.
  • Illegal drug use: Drugs can have serious, long-lasting effects on your heart.
  • Obesity: Maintaining an unhealthy weight stresses your heart and other organs.
  • Inactivity: Lack of exercise increases your chances to have a heart attack.
  • Stress: Extra stress or trauma in your life escalates your risk factors.
  • Poor nutrition: A diet full of fatty, fried foods is not good for you. Incorporate high-protein meats, veggies and fruits to decrease your chances.


Everyone has different symptoms of a heart attack, some include:

  • Pain/tightness/aches/pressure in the chest or arm areas. The discomfort may radiate to the back, neck or jaw. The pain or discomfort may vary in levels between people.
  • Stomach discomfort, including heartburn, abdominal pain, indigestion or general nausea.
  • Lightheadedness or the sense of being dizzy. Disorientation is common.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness.
  • Cold sweats.

Often, symptoms may precede the actual heart attack by a few hours, days or, possibly, weeks. When this happens, discomfort is often associated with exertion or over activity. It is typically relieved by rest. Patients with heart attacks in the family often report that they experienced symptoms prior to falling ill.

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