Risk factorsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Factors that may increase your risk of developing myocardial ischemia include:
- Tobacco. Smoking and long-term exposure to secondhand smoke damage the interior walls of arteries — including arteries in your heart — allowing deposits of cholesterol and other substances to collect and slow blood flow. Smoking also increases the risk of blood clots forming in the arteries that can cause myocardial ischemia.
- Diabetes. Diabetes is the inability of your body to adequately produce or respond to insulin properly. Insulin, a hormone secreted by your pancreas, allows your body to use glucose, which is a form of sugar from foods. Diabetes can occur in childhood, but it appears more often in middle age and among overweight people. Diabetes is linked to an increased risk of myocardial ischemia, heart attack and other heart problems.
- High blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries that feed your heart by accelerating atherosclerosis. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age and if you have a family history of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is more common in those who are obese and in smokers. Eating a diet high in salt also may increase your risk of high blood pressure.
- High blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Cholesterol is a major part of the deposits that can narrow arteries throughout your body, including those that supply your heart. A high level of "bad" (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) cholesterol in your blood is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis and myocardial ischemia. A high LDL level may be due to an inherited condition or a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol. A high level of triglycerides, another type of blood fat, may also contribute to atherosclerosis. However, a high level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol), which helps the body clean up excess cholesterol, is desirable and lowers your risk of heart attack.
- Lack of physical activity. An inactive lifestyle contributes to obesity and is associated with higher cholesterol and triglycerides and an increased risk of atherosclerosis. People who get regular aerobic exercise have better cardiovascular fitness, which is associated with a decreased risk of myocardial ischemia and heart attack. Exercise also lowers high blood pressure.
- Obesity. Obese people have a high proportion of body fat, often with a body mass index of 30 or higher. Obesity raises the risk of myocardial ischemia because it's associated with high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and diabetes.
- Family history. If you have a family history of heart attack or coronary artery disease, you may be at increased risk of myocardial ischemia.
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