Acute Coronary Syndrome: Causes & Risk Factors

The risk factors for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) are similar to those for other types of heart disease. Knowing your risk factors may help explain how you might have gotten the disease—and help you avoid further damage by improving some of your lifestyle choices.

Acute coronary syndrome risk factors include:

  • Cigarette smoking. This is one of the biggest factors associated with heart disease.
  • Age. Men are at risk starting at about age 45; women are at risk at age 55.
  • Gender. At middle age, coronary artery disease and heart attacks are much more common in men. Women have, on average, 10 to 15 more years of heart disease-free life than do men. But, as women age, their level of risk reaches that of men.
  • High blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80. If yours is above that, your risk of heart disease increases.
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides. A low-fat, high-fiber diet will help reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. High cholesterol and high triglycerides can cause blockage of arteries.
  • Lack of physical activity. People who are sedentary are almost twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as are people who exercise regularly.
  • Type 2 diabetes. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in people with diabetes.
  • Family history. If your relatives, especially immediate family, have experienced chest pain, heart disease or stroke, your chances of developing ACS increase.