How To Tell You're At Risk Of A Heart Attack And Steps To Prevent It

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Every year, 1 in 4 Americans die from heart disease, making it one of the leading causes of death in the US.9  About 735,000 Americans suffer from heart attack every year, 15 percent of which succumb to death.10

signs and symptoms of heart attack

Heart Attack Risk Factors

With these frightening statistics, you should pay close attention to the following risk factors for a heart attack:11

  • Age. Men who are 45 years old or older and women who are 55 years old or older are at high risk.
  • Tobacco. Prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke puts you on a high risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • High cholesterol levels. If you have high levels of triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), it is likely that you have a greater risk for a heart attack.
  • Diabetes, especially if it goes untreated.
  • Family history of heart attack. If someone in your family has a history of heart attack, you may also have it.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Being physically inactive leads to high bad cholesterol levels that may lead to plaque formation.
  • Obesity. If you lose 10 percent of your body weight, you also lower your risk for a heart attack.
  • Stress. German researchers found that once you experience stress, your white blood cell levels increase. These in turn raise your risk of developing atherosclerosis and plaque rupture.12,13,14
  • Illegal drug use. Using cocaine or amphetamines may cause coronary artery spasm.
  • Preeclampsia history. If you have experienced high blood pressure during pregnancy, your risk of having a heart attack is high.

If you have any of these risk factors, I strongly suggest that you pay a visit to your physician to keep you at bay from heart attack or any cardiovascular disease.

Related Article: What happens during a heart attack.

Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Attack

Some people may experience mild or no symptoms of heart attack at all – this is called silent heart attack. It happens mostly to people with diabetes.

In order to prevent premature heart disease-related death from happening to you, take note of other common symptoms of this deadly condition:15

  • Chest pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom when having a heart attack. Some people may experience a sudden sharp pain, while some may feel just a mild pain. This may last for a couple of minutes or up to a few hours.
  • Upper body discomfort: You may feel distress or uneasiness down the left side of the body: on arms, back, shoulder, neck, jaw, or in the upper part of your stomach.
  • Throat or jaw pain: This is not about the common pain you have that is unrelated to the heart. It is a pain or pressure stemming from the center of your chest that spreads up into your throat or jaw.
  • Shortness of breath: Some people may experience this symptom only, or it may happen alongside chest pain.
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or stomach pain: There may even be vomiting. These symptoms could mean anything but if you are at risk for heart problems, be aware when you have these symptoms out of the blue.
  • Sudden dizziness or lightheaded: These symptoms are more common among women. It could mean that your blood pressure has dropped because your heart isn’t able to pump the way it should.
  • Cold sweat: If you break out in a cold sweat for no obvious reason, it could signal a heart attack, especially if it occurs with any other symptoms mentioned here.
  • Unusual tiredness: If you are usually fit but suddenly feel fatigued for unknown reasons, be wary. If this tiredness last for days, there may be an impending heart attack.
  • Prolonged cough: There are many reasons for coughing, but if you’re at risk of a heart attack, pay attention. If your cough produces a white or pink mucus, it could be a sign that your heart is not able to keep up with your body’s demands, causng blood to leak back into the lungs.

Older people who may experience one or more of these symptoms usually just shrug these off, thinking that these are just signs of aging. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, have someone call an ambulance immediately.

How To Prevent A Heart Attack

Most cardiovascular diseases are preventable. I recommend these lifestyle practices to help you avoid a heart attack or any heart disease:

1. Eat a healthy diet.

A heart-healthy diet does not mean entirely avoiding fats and cholesterol. As opposed to popular belief, saturated fats and “large, fluffy” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are actually good for your body since they are your body’s natural source for energy.

eat healthy

You also have to avoid consumption of processed foods, refined carbs, sugar (especially fructose), and trans fats since they help increase “small” LDL, which contributes to plaque buildup.

I recommend the following healthy diet strategies:

  • Focus on fresh and organic, whole foods
  • Limit fructose consumption to 25 grams each day. If you have diabetes, hypertension, or if you’re insulin resistant, keep your fructose level below 15 grams per day
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners
  • Remove gluten and other allergenic foods from your meals
  • Include naturally fermented foods in your diet like dairy and cultured vegetables
  • Balance your omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio by eating wild-caught Alaskan salmon or taking a krill oil supplement
  • Always drink pure water, find out how much water you need to drink daily
  • Eat high-quality saturated and monounsaturated fats from pasture-raised animals and krill oil
  • Consume high-quality protein from organically raised animals

Eating healthy may not be enough to keep safe from a heart attack – remember, it’s also important to observe how often you eat. That being said, I recommend intermittent fasting that limits your daily eating to an eight-hour window. It helps your body reprogram itself and remember how to burn fat for energy.

It is essential that while you are loading up on healthy foods, you are also spending at least 2.5 hours per week doing exercises.  I recommend doing high intensity interval exercise, as it offers many benefits not only for your heart but also for your general health and overall wellness. But be sure that you rest after each session to achieve best results.

2. Exercise regularly.

It is essential that while you are loading up on healthy foods, you are also spending at least 2.5 hours per week doing exercises.  I recommend doing the rebounding exercise, as it offers many benefits not only for your heart but also for your general health and overall wellness. But be sure that you rest after each session to achieve best results.

3. Quit smoking.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included quiting smoking as a measure to prevent cardiovascular diseases, which may lead to a heart attack. Smoking causes your blood vessels to narrow and thicken. It also causes blood clots to form that may lead to blood flow blockage to your heart.16

4. Avoid alcohol consumption

avoid alcohol for heart health

Alcohol is high in empty calories and actually makes you fat. Drinking alcohol stops your body from burning fats and calories. As a result, the food that you just ate becomes stored fat.  Alcohol also damages your prefrontal cortex, which promotes impulsive eating. In order to maintain optimal health, I suggest eradicating all forms of alcohol from your lifestyle.

5. Sit as little as possible

Long hours of sitting have detrimental effects on your health such as a 50 percent increased risk of lung cancer and 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes. To maintain an active lifestyle at home or even at work, I recommend walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day. Using a fitness tracker like Jawbone’s Up3 also helps track all your activities for the whole day.

6. Optimize your vitamin D levels

It is essential that you have your vitamin D levels tested annually as a deficiency of this vitamin increases your risk for a heart attack by 50 percent. In order to get its health benefits, you must maintain a level of 40 ng/ml or 5,000-6,000 IUs per day. I highly recommend sun exposure as your best source of vitamin D, although some foods and vitamin D3 supplements are considered to be good sources as well.

7. Try grounding/earthing

Walking bare foot transfers free electrons, which are potent antioxidants, from the earth to your body. Grounding also reduces inflammation throughout your body, as it thins your blood and fills you with negatively charged ions.

8. Free yourself from stress

A study published in mBio17,18   showed that when you’re stressed, your body releases norepinephrine. This hormone causes the dispersal of bacterial biofilms that result in plaque rupture.

I highly recommend doing Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) in managing your stress. EFT is an energy psychology tool that helps reset your body’s reaction in times of stress. This can reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses.

Keeping your heart healthy undeniably makes your life more enjoyable and fruitful. Remember these wholesome, commonsense strategies so you can avoid a heart attack and keep your cardiovascular system performing at its best.

Related Article: What happens during a heart attack.


This article was originally published on It is republished here with permission.

Some of the links I post on this site are affiliate links. If you go through them to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you). However, note that I’m recommending these products because of their quality and that I have good experience using them, not because of the commission to be made.

About Sara Ding

Sara Ding is the founder of She is a certified Wellness Health Coach, Nutritional Consultant and a Detox Specialist. She helps busy men and women identify their health issues at the root cause, in order to eliminate the problems for optimum physical/mental health and wellbeing.

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