Heart attacks happen when cell death results in damaged or destroyed heart tissue. According to Mayo Clinic, it is one of a number of conditions associated with acute coronary syndrome – a term used to describe a range of conditions that cause sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart. The symptoms associated with acute coronary syndrome and heart attacks are usually acute and abrupt, such as chest pain that spreads to your arms and jaw.
Other heart attack risk factors
Arguably the gravest risk factor for heart attacks is high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood that is produced naturally in the liver.
As the British Heart Foundation (BHF) explains, everyone has cholesterol.
“We need it to stay healthy because every cell in our body uses it. Some of this cholesterol comes from the food we eat,” says the BHF.
Having too much of it can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke, however.
One of the worst types is LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol.
This is because when there is too much of it, it can build up inside the walls of the blood vessels,” warns the BHF.
It adds: “This clogs them up causing narrowing of the arteries which increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.”
LDL cholesterol is found in foods containing saturated fat, such as meat pies, sausages and fatty cuts of meat.
As the NHS warns, you should avoid food containing saturated fats, because these will increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your blood.
“However, a balanced diet should still include unsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase levels of good cholesterol and help reduce any blockage in your arteries,” notes the health body.
Foods high in unsaturated fat include:
- Oily fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils