Preventing a Heart Attack
Are you at Risk?
Common Risk Factors
- High cholesterol
- A family history of heart disease
If you have any of these risk factors, discuss your current condition with your physician and assess these varying factors and how, in combination, they translate into your own individual risk profile.
Reduce Your Chances of a Heart Attack
Minimize your risk factors. A recent study predicts that those with an “optimal” risk factor burden have an increased life expectancy of 10 or more years over those with two or more risk factors. Here are some tips:
- Know your numbers. Visit your physician regularly to learn and keep track of your blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking decreases HDL (good) cholesterol and, in combination with other risk factors, can be lethal to the heart. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, within a year of quitting smoking, the risk of dying from smoking-related heart disease is cut in half.
- Exercise regularly. Doctors recommend 30 minutes a day as a start for maintaining a healthy heart. The key to actually maintaining an exercise schedule is finding something you love to do that you can realistically fit into your daily schedule.
- Eat healthy. Be mindful of what food is entering your mouth—replace high-fat and high-calorie items such as fast food, sweets and soda with healthy alternatives such as fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk and juice. Your heart will thank you for every small step or substitution.
- If you have a family history of heart disease, discuss it with your doctor. Develop a personal screening schedule and ask about additional steps you can take to minimize your risk for heart disease.