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Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease and Heart Attack

Coronary artery disease is the hardening and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis) that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Various lifestyle factors and medical conditions are known to increase the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack (and therefore heart failure), including:

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  • Smoking.
  • Having a diet high in fats, which leads to high levels of cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol may also be a result of the body's own overproduction of cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Getting older.
  • Being male. Heart failure is more prevalent among men.
  • Being overweight.
  • Having diabetes. Because diabetes causes high blood sugar levels, it can cause damage to the arteries in the heart, leading to atherosclerosis and poor blood flow to the heart muscle. Atherosclerosis occurs more often and at a younger age in people who have diabetes.
  • Having a family history of heart disease.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last Revised August 5, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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