Family History and Heart Health
Fredric Klopf, MD, is a cardiologist and chief of staff at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City. His office can be reached at (623) 876-8816.
Question: I have a strong family history of heart disease. Are there things I can do to help prevent a heart attack in my future?
Answer: I commend you for being proactive with your heart health. Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans today with heart attack as its most visible sign.
A heart attack occurs when there is a sudden blockage in one of the main arteries that stops the flow of blood to the heart muscles. If blood flow is not restored quickly, the portion of the heart that is affected will die. Losing more than 30 percent of the heart muscle is usually fatal.
While you can't change your family history, there are still many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease.
If you smoke, quitting is probably the most significant factor that can decrease your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Smokers are three to four times more likely to develop heart disease. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers in check is another way to keep your heart healthy.
Optimally, you should strive for your blood pressure to be 120/80 mmHg or less, and your total cholesterol to be less than 200 mg/dL.
Regular exercise is important as well - strive for at least 30 minutes of exercise most if not all days of the week.
Practicing yoga, meditation or other stress-reducing techniques can aid in keeping your heart healthy. Lastly, try to eat a diet low in sodium, high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Reviewed February 2011