Heart Attack Preventions

Exercise Every Day:Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) at least five days of the week. More vigorous activity can provide additional benefits, including weight loss if caloric expenditure exceeds caloric intake.

Diet Control: Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish, legumes, poultry, and lean meats. Saturated fats should make up <7% of total calories. If overweight, reduce caloric intake and increase physical activity to achieve and maintain a desirable body weight (body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9). For those who drink, limit alcohol intake (no more than two drinks a day for men, one drink a day for women).

Lower Cholesterol:Total cholesterol <200 mg/dL; LDL cholesterol <160 mg/dL for people with no more than one risk factor for a heart attack; LDL <130 mg/dL for those with two or more risk factors; LDL <100 mg/dL (with an optional goal of 40 mg/dL for men and HDL >50 mg/dL for women (and preferably >60 mg/dL for both men and women); triglycerides <150 mg/dL. If you cannot reach your LDL goal after three months of lifestyle changes, consider drug therapy to lower your LDL. Exercise, improvements in diet, and quitting smoking can help you meet your HDL goals.

Blood Pressure Control : <140/90 mm Hg (ideal is <120/80 mm Hg); <130/80 mm Hg for people with diabetes or kidney disease. If you cannot reach this goal after three months of lifestyle changes, you may benefit from medication to prevent a heart attack.

Low-Dose Aspirin:Low-Dose Aspirin (81 mg per day) for men ages 45 to 79 whose risk of a heart attack exceeds their risk of gastrointestinal bleeding from aspirin. Not recommended solely to prevent heart attacks in women. However, aspirin can be considered for stroke prevention in women ages 55 to 79 if their risk of a stroke exceeds their risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Be sure to consult with a physician before starting aspirin therapy.

One of the keys to preventing heart disease is getting risk factors under control, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Main prevention tips to follow:

1.Quit smoking
2.Manage stress
3.Control weight
4.Control high blood pressure
5.Control diabetes
7.Improve cholesterol levels
8.Eat a heart-healthy diet

The bottom line for prevention, says Schilling, is to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle.

“Maintain an ideal body weight, and exercise one hour a day, seven days a week,” advises Schilling. As part of a heart healthy diet, she recommends following a balanced diet with approximately 30 percent of calories from monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola, fish and nuts and limit saturated fats.

Also limit carbohydrates, sugar or any sugar food including white flour.
Regular Screenings

Screening is also an important way to prevent heart trouble. “The earlier you start screening and treating it, the more disease you can prevent,” said Shilling.

That means getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked at the appropriate times.

Shilling says adults 25 and older should have their cholesterol screened and should also be screened for diabetes starting in the 20′s. High blood pressure checks should also start in the 20′s.

The Center for Preventive Cardiology evaluates patients not only for the presence of heart disease, but also for all cardiovascular diseases.

“Our goals are to evaluate for all areas that someone could possibly have a blockage,” said Schilling. “We do screening for the total body risk– not just the heart, but for all cardiovascular diseases, including blockages and clotting of the heart, legs, and kidneys. When we see patients for cardiac disease we want to look at the whole body, look at the entire scope of the vascular system.”

This would include screenings of the carotid arteries, coronary arteries, testing for PAD/PVD, and renal artery stenosis.

The Center will offer non-invasive methods of detecting hardening of the arteries, biochemical tests, and other state-of-the-art tests.

“We are going to be among the first in the country to offer a genetic screening in combination with non-invasive tests to try to identify individuals who may be at increased risk for early coronary disease,” said Miller. In addition, patients will also have the opportunity to enroll in some of the Maryland Heart Center’s new clinical trials.

After screening patients, Heart Center physicians and staff work specifically on modifying the risk factors in order to prevent the onset or progression of cardiovascular disease.

“We are offering an extremely aggressive risk factor modification program with intensive follow up,” said Shilling. “We make sure you get to goal, whether it’s with lifestyle modification, medications as appropriate, exercise therapies or diet.”

People with diabetes have a greater chance of developing heart disease than those who don’t have diabetes. Diabetes can affect the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Working with your doctor to develop a plan to control your diabetes is the first step in safeguarding your heart.

Many of the lifestyle changes suggested for keeping your heart healthy (such as a good diet and regular exercise) are important in controlling diabetes. Sometimes medication is needed. Ask your doctor.

Active people have fewer heart attacks and have a better chance of recovery than inactive people. They also feel good, are less tired, more relaxed and are better able to cope with stress. You can do more with less effort, have better heart function and possibly lower blood pressure. Regular activity helps control weight and lower blood cholesterol levels.

Aim to accumulate 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. You don’t have to join a gym or pound the pavements all day long. Regular brisk walking for half an hour can do the job just as well. Find a variety of activities you enjoy. Look for opportunities to put activity in your day. Every bit helps. Two or 3 sessions that add up to half an hour are OK if you can’t do it all at once.

While some have to fight the battle of the bulge for mere shallow reasons, there are those who do all the dieting and exercising to reduce their cholesterol levels just to stay alive. And while cholesterol is an important component of the membranes of cells, playing an important part in maintaining brain synapses as well as in the immune system, it is also the largest cause of heart attack and stroke.

While it is great that most people who are suffering from high levels of cholesterol go to their dieticians to have their daily eating habits tweaked by following a strict meal plan in order to help them lower their cholesterol levels (hopefully back to normal levels), some people have really gone overboard, but if you feel compelled to lower your cholestorol, consult with your doctor, most doctors are fine with prescribing cholesterol reducing drugs.

When coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise, the drugs can make quite a difference in your cholesterol levels, at least enough that your levels can be considered safe.

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