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Certain risk factors make it more likely that you will develop coronary artery disease, which leads to heart attack. Some risk factors for heart attack can be controlled, but others cannot.

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

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)

Risk factors that you cannot 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 coronary artery disease. Your risk increases if your father or a brother was diagnosed with it before 55 years of age, or if your mother or a sister was diagnosed before 65 years of age.

Certain risk factors for coronary artery disease tend to occur together. When they do, it is called metabolic syndrome. 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.

Calculate your risk

Learn more about heart attack risk factors

Treatments for heart attack

Coronary angioplasty, commonly called a cardiac “cath” procedure, is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open a blockage in a coronary (heart) artery narrowed by plaque buildup on the inner walls of the arteries. A tiny balloon on the tip of a wire is inserted into the patient’s leg artery and guided through his or her maze of arteries to the location of the heart blockage. The balloon is then inflated to open the coronary artery and restore blood flow to the heart. A stent is typically placed in the artery to serve as a scaffolding to support the artery and prevent the blood vessel from closing again.

More than a million people a year undergo angioplasty in the United States, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.