Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Best Practices for a Healthy Heart Step One: Know Your Numbers
Last week I introduced my new book, Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: A 7-Point, Evidence-Based Plan to Protect and Heal Your Heart. The book is scheduled to be released in May by The Experiment publishing house. Over the next several weeks I will introduce you to my seven simple but powerful steps that might just save your life.
Step #1: Know Your Numbers
It is no mystery that cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure) kills more women and men every year than all forms of cancer combined, yet many of us are unaware of our risk factors. Since the majority of heart attacks and strokes are preventable, it’s critically important that we know what risk factors we carry. Fortunately, the chief trouble makers are easy to identify, and most can be treated. These include:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- high cholesterol
- a sedentary lifestyle
A heart smart diet and lifestyle can often prevent these problems from developing in the first place.
Many people blame genetics for their heart troubles, but in reality, only about 15 percent of heart attacks can be attributed mainly to family history. On the other hand, our genetics can interact with our risk factors in powerful ways. For instance, a smoker with a family history of heart disease is substantially more likely to suffer a heart attack than a smoker with no family history.
Risk factors are important in identifying people who are most likely to develop cardiovascular disease, but they also can help us to classify people at low risk. That allows us to develop patient-centered goals for cholesterol levels, and to pinpoint who needs closer monitoring for early signs and symptoms of heart trouble.
Whether your risk is high or low, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know that a healthy way of life is important for all of us, since a heart smart diet, regular exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight will also reduce your chances of developing cancer and dementia. Next week, I’ll tell you more about Step Two: Eat Well to Live Better.
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