6 Heart Attack Risk Factors

Learn the key risk factors that determine your chances of having a heart attack

Sanaz Majd, MD
1-minute read

The main risk factors for heart attacks include:

Age – risk for heart attacks begins to rise for men at age 40 and women at 50.  It can still happen below that age, but it’s a lot less likely.

Sex – men are at higher risk than women, although the disease still kills a huge number of women each year.

Genetics – if a member of your immediate family has coronary heart disease, your risk is substantially higher. That risk is especially high if that family member is a man under 50 or a woman under 60

Smoking – people often think of smoking as a danger to the lungs (which it is), but the biggest risk of death from smoking is from heart attacks.  I recommend my patients who smoke quit and take up something safer, like tightrope walking, javelin catching, or training pit bulls. 

Hypertension and Diabetes – having these diseases also increase risk.

High cholesterol – this is a complex subject, so please refer to Should You be Worried About Your Cholesterol? to get an accurate picture.

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Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.