Major Risk Factors

Who Is At Risk for a Heart Attack?

Certain risk factors make it more likely that you will develop coronary artery disease (CAD) and have a heart attack. Some risk factors for heart attack can be controlled, while others can’t.

Major risk factors for heart attack that you can control include:


Risk factors that you can’t change include:

  • Age. Risk increases for men older than 45 years and for women older than 55 years (or after menopause).
  • Family history of early CAD. Your risk increases if your father or a brother was diagnosed with CAD before 55 years of age, or if your mother or a sister was diagnosed with CAD before 65 years of age.

Certain CAD risk factors tend to occur together. When they do, it’s called metabolic syndrome. In general, a person with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as someone without metabolic syndrome.

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