Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the U.S. In addition, it is also a major cause of disability. Your risk of heart disease increases with age. You have a greater risk if you are a man over age 45 or a woman over age 55. You also are at heightened risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.
After that eye-opening news you might wonder, “well then what can I do to beat the odds?” Fortunately there are many steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing heart disease.
It’s best to start with prevention. Here are seven top strategies:
- Know your blood pressure and keep it under control. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for hardening of the arteries, heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke.
- Exercise regularly. Studies show just 30 minutes most days of the week can reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Don’t smoke. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels.
- Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, keep it under control.
- Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and keep them under control.
- Eat a heart healthy diet . The DASH diet is highly recommended to help protect your heart. It includes lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, along with some fish, poultry and legumes. Red meat, sweets and fats are allowed in small amounts. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Tipping the scale in the wrong direction can lead to other medical conditions that contribute to the development of heart disease, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
Following these guidelines can also help minimize your risk:
Have your cholesterol checked
Your healthcare provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years. Talk with your doctor about this simple blood test.
Monitor your blood pressure
High blood pressure has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
Manage your diabetes
If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels. Talk with your healthcare provider about treatment options.
Take your medicine
If you’re taking medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Talk with your healthcare provider
You and your doctor can work together to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease. Discuss your treatment plan regularly and bring a list of questions to your appointments.
The Regional Medical Center of San Jose has a full array of heart diagnostic testing tools including the very latest imaging devices that help doctors diagnose a patient’s condition and determine the severity of any heart problem.
Regional Medical Center of San Jose is home to a Nationally Accredited Level III Chest Pain Center , a Certified full-service Interventional Stroke Center and participates in the “Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs” program.
So what are the common warning signs for a heart attack?
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body
This may be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of Breath
May often occur with or before chest discomfort.
May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
For more information on the Cardiac Services available at Regional Medical Center of San Jose or to find a physician specializing in heart and vascular conditions, please call our Consult-A-Nurse line at 1-(408) 259-4000.