(3) Elevated blood cholesterol. A person with a blood cholesterol level of
250 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or higher has a greater risk of heart attack than does
a person with normal blood cholesterol level.
(4) High fat, high cholesterol diet. A person who eats large amounts of
foods that are high in fat and cholesterol runs a greater risk of heart attack than does a
person who eats a normal diet.
b. Other Risk Factors. The following are also risk factors that, for the most
part, are beyond the person's control.
(1) Age. Older persons are more likely to have heart attacks. About one-
fourth of all heart attacks, however, occur in individuals under the age of 65.
Sex. Males are more likely to have heart attacks than females.
(3) Diabetes. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack; however, the risk
(4) Heredity. A person whose family has a history of cardiovascular disease
is at greater than normal risk.
c. Unproven Factors. Some factors which are thought to make a heart attack
more likely, but are not yet proven to do so, are:
Certain personality types.
Lack of regular exercise (physical hypoactivity).
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF A HEART ATTACK
A myocardial infarction can happen to either males or females, old or young, and
not necessarily during physical or emotional stress. A person experiencing the early
signs and symptoms of a heart attack may not know that he is having a heart attack.
He may state that he feels like having "bad indigestion."
a. A heart attack may begin with pain, uncomfortable pressure, squeezing,
fullness, or tightness around the chest. The pain is usually located in the center of the
chest behind the breastbone (sternum). The pain may be substernal and may be
described as crushing; many patients describe the pain as, "It feels like an elephant is
sitting on my chest." The pain may not be severe. Sharp, stabbing twinges of pain are
usually not symptoms of a heart attack.