Each year, 1.1 million Americans suffer heart attacks. For one-third of these people, their first and only warning sign is sudden death. The two-thirds who survive may experience congestive heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and the emotional burden of being diagnosed with heart disease. By addressing risk factors and recognizing symptoms right away, you can help lower your chance of developing or dying from a heart attack.
Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is severely reduced or stopped. It can be caused by a blood clot. If the blood supply is cut off severely for a long time, muscle cells suffer irreversible damage and die, depending on how much the heart muscle is damaged.
The major risk factors for coronary heart disease are:
â?¢Increasing age: About four out of five people who die of coronary heart disease are ages 65 or older.
â?¢Gender: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women, and they have attacks earlier in life. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are twice as likely as men to die from them within a few weeks.