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Ask the Doc :: Heart Attack Risk?

by Jason Faulhaber, M.D.
Contributor
Wednesday May 25, 2011
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Question:
Dear Doctor Jason,

My Dad had a heart attack at the age of 42. That seems pretty young to me - what steps should I take to make sure I’m not at risk? Or should I be tested for blood pressure or something? I’m only 29 but worried.

Signed, Risk Factor

Doctor Jason’s Response:

Yes, 42 is young for a heart attack. There are many reasons for people to have heart attacks, and some of them can be modified but others cannot.

Men are more likely to have heart attacks than women are; and, even if you undergo a sex change, you’re still at risk based on your genetic sex.

There are certain genetic inherited factors that may increase the risk for heart disease, and those cannot be modified.

Men over 40 are also considered to be more at risk, and you can’t change your age (no matter how young you look).

Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alcohol use, diabetes, and obesity are all other risk factors, most of which can be modified.

At the age of 29, you should have a complete physical examination with your medical provider at least every 2 years; it should be annually if you have an ongoing issue, like high blood pressure, or if you take a prescribed medication daily.

Stay healthy,
Doctor Jason

Dr. Faulhaber is a graduate of Tulane University in Psychology and Cellular and Molecular Biology and received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He performed his residency training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where he then served as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine. He completed his fellowship in Infectious Diseases at New York University, where he specialized in HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and fungal infections. Since fellowship, he has been working as an Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases physician at Fenway Community Health in Boston. He is a Clinical Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and he is affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has been the lead author or co-author of several journal articles and textbook chapters on infections with HIV, other viruses, bacteria, and fungi. He is also accredited by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

This article is part of our "Ask the Doc" series. Want to read more? Here's the full list»

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