CHICAGO — The vast majority of heart attacks strike people who either smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, debunking the perception that heart problems can strike anyone, researchers said Tuesday.
Roughly nine out of 10 patients surveyed suffered from one of the four risk factors, often for years, before experiencing a heart problem, according to a pair of reports that analyzed accumulated data from previous studies.
The finding challenged claims repeated in medical literature that half of those who suffer heart-related events do not have any of the risk factors, said study author Dr. Philip Greenland of Northwestern University in Chicago.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., Greenland found risk factors were present in 92% of men who suffered heart attacks, and 87% of the women.
Greenland's study analyzed data from three previous multiyear studies that surveyed nearly 400,000 subjects.
The second study, which analyzed surveys from outside the United States, found at least 85% of roughly 120,000 patients with angina or who underwent angioplasty or similar treatment had at least one of the four risk factors.