Is Your Heart Health at Risk

Feb 08, 2016

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America. You can be predisposed to heart disease based on your genetics (family history of heart disease) or your risk could be heightened due to an unhealthy weight and/or sedentary lifestyle. It is important to remember that 9 out of 10 cases of heart disease can be prevented with just a few simple lifestyle changes such as healthy diet and moderate exercise a few times a week.

To help determine your risk level, start by determining your Body Mass Index (BMI). Maintaining good heart health requires a healthy body weight, usually expressed as a BMI of less than 28. If your BMI is greater than that, it's time to start reevaluating some of your food and lifestyle choices.

Genetics and family history will need to be taken into account as well. Be sure to talk to your relatives to find out if anyone in your family has had a history of heart disease. You will want to tell your doctor of this history as well.

If you have a family history of heart disease or an unhealthy BMI, you are at risk. If you haven’t discussed this with your physician, please do so as soon as possible. Your heart health is important to us.

How can I prevent Heart Disease?

  • Don't smoke. If you are currently a smoker, there's no better time to quit than today. Your physician can give you great tips on how to stop smoking. Don't be afraid to ask.
  • Eat more high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose fish-based proteins which tend to be lower in saturated fat.
  • Cut back on salt. High salt intake increases blood pressure which puts you at a greater risk for heart disease.
  • Reduce your intake of high-fat dairy products and red meats. Moderation is key.
  • Exercise for 30 minutes no less than three times a week. You don't have to run a marathon. Just getting out and taking a brisk walk counts. Get that heart pumping!

Before beginning any exercise routine, make sure you check with your physician to see if your heart is strong enough for exercise. In some cases, you may be genetically predisposed to heart disease and diet and exercise won’t be enough. Sometimes, medication or surgery are used to help improve and regulate the flow of blood to and from the heart, to ensure the heart is pumping as it should and keep the heart working properly. Discuss your options with your Physicians East doctor.



Signs and symptoms that you may have heart disease

Symptoms vary depending on the type of heart disease you are suffering from, but typically patients report chest discomfort. Oftentimes, the first sign is a heart attack itself.

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain that doesn’t go away within a few minutes
  • Pain in the jaw, neck or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness, nausea, light-headedness or a cold sweat.
  • Pain in the arms or shoulder

If you are experiencing any symptoms of a heart attack, please notify your physician immediately or call 9-1-1.