Exposure and Risk
Several factors can be involved in the increased risk for heart attacks. These factors can include health, lifestyle, and environment. High levels of air pollution have been linked to decreases in lung function and increases in heart attacks. High levels of air pollution directly affect people with asthma and other types of lung or heart disease, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality Index. Overall air quality has improved in the last 20 years, but urban areas are still a concern. The elderly and children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.
The level of environmental risk for heart attacks depends on several factors:
- the amount of pollution in the air,
- a person's exposure to the air pollution, and
- overall health.
Other risks include conditions and behavioral factors, such as:
- high blood cholesterol levels,
- high blood pressure,
- exposure to tobacco smoke,
- poor diet,
- physical inactivity,
- obesity, and
- drinking too much alcohol.
Heart disease can run in a family. Genetic factors likely play some role in high blood pressure, heart disease, and other health conditions. However, people with a family history of heart disease likely share common environments and risk factors that may increase their risk.
This symbol means you are leaving the CDC.gov Web site. For more information, please see CDC's Exit Notification and Disclaimer policy.
Copyrighted images: Images on this website which are copyrighted were used with permission of the copyright holder and are not in the public domain. CDC has licensed these images for use in the materials provided on this website, and the materials in the form presented on this website may be used without seeking further permission. Any other use of copyrighted images requires permission from the copyright holder.
Tracking Hot Topics
- Emergency Preparedness and Response: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster
- Carbon Monoxide Toolkit
- CDC's Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention
- Carbon Monoxide Communication Tools
- Tracking Fellowship Milestone
- View our Tracking Success Stories to learn how Tracking is making a difference across the U.S.