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NM EPHT Health Effects: Cardiovascular – Heart Attack (AMI)

Heart Attack – Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI)

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in New Mexico.

  • Heart disease includes conditions that affect the normal structure and function of the heart and its valves and vessels.
  • When blood flow to the heart is reduced, it causes coronary artery disease, which is a type of heart disease.
  • Coronary artery disease is the chief cause of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), also called heart attack. Learn more about heart disease and heart attack: www.cdc.gov/heartdisease (external site).

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Many risk factors for heart attacks are known; some are still being investigated.

  • Well-known risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking. Learn more about your risk for heart attack in the What are the risks? section, below.
  • Environmental risk factors being investigated include air pollution, which has been reported to increase the risk of hospitalization for heart attack.
  • One form of air pollution is particulate matter (PM) and it includes particles from dust storms, burning fuels from vehicles, burning coal from power plants, and wildfire smoke. Learn more about particulate matter and heart attacks on the next page.

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What are the risks?

You are at risk if you have certain inherited genetic factors. These factors include those you are born with that cannot be changed but that can be improved with lifestyle changes (such as a healthful diet and exercise) and working with a doctor to take appropriate medications.

You are also at risk if you have acquired risk factors. These factors are caused by chosen activities but can be improved with lifestyle changes (such as a healthful diet and exercise) and working with a doctor to take appropriate medications.

Examples of those at risk from inherited factors include:

  • People with inherited hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • People with inherited low levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) blood cholesterol.
  • People with a family history of heart disease (especially with onset before age 55).
  • Aging men and women.
  • People with diabetes (type 1 or type 2).
  • Women, after the onset of menopause – generally men are at risk at an earlier age than women but after the onset of menopause, women are equally at risk.

Examples of acquired risk factors include:

  • Acquired hypertension (high blood pressure).
  • Acquired low levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) blood cholesterol.
  • High stress levels.
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle (i.e., not much exercise).
  • Being overweight by 30 percent or more.

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How can you manage these risks?

Start with the following:

  • Identify which of the risk factors apply to you.
  • Become aware of conditions like hypertension or abnormal cholesterol levels, which can be ‘silent killers.’
  • Modify risk factors that are acquired – not inherited – through lifestyle changes. See your physician as the first step in starting right away to make these changes.
  • See your physician as the first step in making changes. He or she can determine if you have genetic or inherited risk factors that cannot be changed, but that can be managed.

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Heart attack hospitalizations vary across New Mexico.

  • Hospitalization rates can be mapped by different variables, such as county of residence, age, and gender.
  • Heart attack hospitalizations may be influenced by pollution and by the other well-known risk factors listed on this page.
  • See heart attack/AMI maps, charts, and graphs on the graphs and maps page.

Heart Attack and Air Quality (next page)

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