This is your risk of dying of a heart attack or of the damage to your heart caused by a heart attack, even if you survived the heart attack itself. Death from heart attacks is still the leading cause of death among Americans. It has been less common in recent years, because of better treatment of high blood pressure, fewer people smoking, and improvements in diet to reduce cholesterol. Taking one aspirin a day may help prevent heart attacks.
Weight tends to raise blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of developing diabetes. It raises your risk of heart attack mainly through its influence on these other factors. Regular exercise helps prevent heart attacks in part by raising the HDL (good) cholesterol.
Additional risk factors for heart attack that are not used in this health risk appraisal may include high homocysteine levels in your blood and high C-reactive protein level in your blood. Some additional protective measures include a diet that is high in fish (or taking capsules containing omega-3 fats).
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The data are about 25 years old; it is difficult to accurately adjust the models used for the changes over the past 25 years. The risk of having a heart attack has been going down because of improved control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. The risk of dying of a heart attack has also gone down due to much better care for those people who get to the hospital alive after their heart attack--opening the artery that was blocked promptly and better selection of medications based on the research that has been done about which treatments work best. At this time heart attacks remain the leading cause of death in the US.