Heart Attack Risk Factors can be Reduced

Research indicates that nine risk factors -- and ones that are under our control -- cause 90% of all heart attacks. Specifically, one or more of the following causes most heart attacks:

  • Smoking
  • Abstaining from alcohol
  • Stress
  • Abnormal cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating too few fruits and vegetables

The study included nearly 27,000 people in 52 countries and on every populated continent. Half were first heart attack survivors and half were healthy volunteers of similar age, race, and gender and the heart attack patients.

Studies have repeatedly found that people who drink beer, wine, or distilled spirits in moderation have a lower heart attack risk. Dr. Salim Yusuf, who headed this study, said that diet, exercise, and moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages decrease the risk of heart disease, but cannot reverse the danger posed by smoking or high cholesterol.

The editor of The Lancet, who was not associated with the study, said it demonstrates the potential for real health benefits than can be achieved without pills or surgery.

The study was funded by 39 institutions, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.


  • Yousu, Salim. INTER-HEART: a study of risk factors for first myocardial infarction in 52 countries and over 27,000 subjects. European Society of Cardiology meetings, Munich, Germany, August 29-Awptember 1, 2004; CBS News, August 30, 2004.

Filed Under: Heart