Heart Attack Risk Factors Explained In Detail

Heart attack and coronary heart disease rank top in the list of leading causes of death in Australia for persons aged 45 years and over. In fact, in 2015 alone, over 45000 deaths were attributed to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and blood vessel deformities. In a bid to prevent more deaths, Australians are encouraged to track their risk factors by taking heart attack risk assessments.

What is a heart disease risk calculator?

A cardiovascular risk assessor is a tool that takes into account your age, weight, family history and your lifestyle habits to determine your level of risk for having heart complications. By taking into account these personal factors, the tool then relays back your chances of having a heart event or dying from it in the next ten years. The tool is a lifesaver in predicting future coronary complications for people who have not suffered a prior heart event.

Personal risk factors explained


The risk of heart disease or failure is directly proportional to a person’s age. What this means is that as we grow older, so does our risk of experiencing coronary complications. Aging is associated with the gradual buildup of fats in the major arteries, a factor which causes the narrowing of blood vessels. This narrowing of vessels results in clotting of the coronary artery thus leading to heart attack. The risk rises significantly in men after the age of 45 and 55 for women.


Generally, men are at a higher risk of contracting heart diseases compared to women. A significant proportion of coronary complications, up to 80%, occur in men. However, in women, menopause is usually accompanied by a drop in estrogen levels leading to a greater risk of experiencing a cardiac event.

Cholesterol levels

Total cholesterol level is defined as the sum of the HDL and LDL cholesterol levels in an individual’s body. Cholesterol is a critical component of the plaque that builds up and eventually clogs the arteries. Generally, the more LDL cholesterol you have in your blood, the greater you the chance of having blood clots in your arteries. HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, contributes to your heart health. The higher the HDL level, the lower your risk of having a cardiac event.

Smoking history

Smoking raises your risk of arteriosclerosis. Nicotine and other substances present in cigarettes do compromise your heart and blood vessels thus raising the risk of atherosclerosis. Fortunately, quitting can help avert further damage to your heart and vessels.


Note that the risk of heart disease increases two-fold if you have diabetes mellitus. Finally, remember that though it’s important to understand your risks, it’s even more important to work closely with your doctor to mitigate these risks.

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