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There are a number of factors which are known to increase the risk of having heart attack – they are called risk factors

The more risk factors you have, the greater the chance of having a heart attack, or having another heart attack. There are some risk factors that you have no control over, as much as you might like to. These include your age, ethnicity, gender and having a family history of heart attack or stroke. However other risk factors are within your power to change, such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood sugar (diabetes), high blood pressure, weight, physical inactivity, what you eat and drink and your mental health and wellbeing. If you make changes to your risk factors, you can slow or stop the damage to your arteries and reduce your risk of having a, or another, heart attack.

Below you will find more information about the factors that you can control and what you can do to decrease your risk.

Smoking

The risk of heart attack is greatly increased by smoking.

Did you know?

If you smoke you are 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack. Find out more

High Cholesterol

Problems develop when too much cholesterol builds up in your body.

Did you know?

Cholesterol performs a number of important functions within the body.  However, having too much can increase your risk of having a heart attack and stroke. Click here to find out more about cholesterol.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease.

Did you know?

High blood pressure is the single most common risk factor in heart disease. It is often called the ‘silent killer’, because for most people there are no symptoms. The only way to find out if your blood pressure is high is to have it checked. Click here to find out more about high blood pressure.

Diabetes

Diabetes increases your risk of coronary heart disease.

Did you know?

Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.

Being Overweight

Your weight can make a big difference in your risk of heart disease.

Did you know?

Almost one third of New Zealanders aged 15 and over are obese (2012/2013 NZ Health Survey results) Find out more

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Managing your risk factors gives you control over your life. Don't just sit there, take action now.Graham Lowe
Graham Lowe

Making sense of your medical notes

Here are some terms you might have heard about or seen in your medical notes. If there are other unfamiliar terms that you have come across, ask your health care provider to explain what they mean.

Click on the terms below to get the definition.

TOTAL CHOLESTEROL

Measures all cholesterol in the blood, including low density lipoproteins (LDL), high density lipoproteins (HDL) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL).

CHOLESTEROL RATIO

Your cholesterol ratio is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol by your HDL number.

HDL CHOLESTEROL

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) is the “good cholesterol.” This lipoprotein removes harmful “bad cholesterol” from where it doesn’t belong.

LDL CHOLESTEROL

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is the “bad cholesterol”. LDL collects in the walls of blood vessels, causing them to narrow (atherosclerosis). Higher LDL levels increase your risk of heart attack.

TRIGLYCERIDES

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts the calories from food that it doesn’t need to use into triglycerides. Triglycerides are used for energy between meals. If you eat more calories than you burn, i.e. diet high in sugars and fats, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).

LIPIDS

Another word for fats. Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids. Lipids are stored in the body. They provide a source of fuel and energy.

HYPERLIPIDAEMIA

High lipid (fat) levels in the blood. Hyperlipidemia increases the risk of coronary heart disease.

HYPERTENSION

Hypertension, another word for high blood pressure, means that your blood pressure is consistently higher than the recommended level. High blood pressure puts too much force on the artery walls, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

HBA1c

The HBA1c test (also called a glycosylated haemoglobin level) is a blood test that measures how much sugar (glucose) has become stuck onto your red blood cells. HbA1c is a term commonly used in relation to diabetes

HYPERTENSION

Hypertension, another word for high blood pressure, means that your blood pressure is consistently higher than the level recommended for you. High blood pressure puts too much force on the artery walls, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Continue the journey

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