Michael Jackson's apparent death from a heart attack is a harsh reminder that the condition can strike at any age, an Australian doctor said on Friday.
Jackson died suddenly, aged 50, apparently from cardiac arrest at his Beverly Hills home on Thursday.
"Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack, is the number one killer in Australia and it is actually a myth that it affects old men or old women," national manager of the clinical program at the Heart Foundation Nancy Huang said.
"Heart attack and cardiovascular disease can really affect someone at any age ... and the important thing is for people to be aware of the risks and consult with your doctor," Huang was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying.
Having an elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, smoking, being overweight, having diabetes, or not being physically active enough are all known risk factors for the disease.
Huang said these health factors, in addition to age, could increase the risk of having a heart attack.
"All of those things start to exponentially increase your risk as you age over 45," she said, adding stress also played a significant role.
While lifestyle factors can heighten the risk of heart disease, it was also reported that Jackson was taking a range of prescription drugs as he battled to get into shape for his gruelling concert comeback.
He was reportedly taking the drugs after suffering injuries during training for the tour, due to begin in London in July.
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2009)