3)10 Tips to Prevent Heart Disease And Stroke
By Gordon A. Ewy, MD, director emeritus of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center
- Take responsibility for your health.
Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death in America, accounting for 34 percent of deaths, many suddenly and almost all of them premature. This is down from 40 percent just four decades ago, mainly due to treatment of common risk factors. If you have diabetes, your risk increases dramatically. The best prevention against heart disease and stroke is to understand the risks and treatment options. The greatest risk is ignorance or misinformation. The first step is to take responsibility for your health.
- Know your risks.
The most influential risk factor for cardiovascular disease is age – the older you are, the greater your risk. The second is your genetic make-up. Although everyone is excited by the scientific progress in genomics research, conclusive gene tests are still in their infancy. But, as I tell our medical students, “A good family history is a poor man’s gene test.” We have long known that if your parents, grandparents, or other relatives were afflicted with or died of heart disease, diabetes or stroke, your risk is much greater.
- Don’t smoke or expose yourself to second-hand smoke.
The evidence is overwhelming that cigarette smoking and second-hand exposure to smoke increases the risks of heart disease, lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
High blood pressure, called hypertension, is known as “the silent killer” as it goes without symptoms in most individuals. High blood pressure causes wear and tear of the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels. The higher your blood pressure (BP) the greater your risk. The risk begins to increase from a pressure of 115/70 mmHg and doubles for each 10 mmHg increase in systolic (the larger number) and 5 mmHg increase in the diastolic (the smaller number). Heredity and increasing age raise the risks. Measuring blood pressures at home reflects more accurately your risk than having the blood pressure taken at a physician’s office. It is worth the investment to get a cuffmeter.
It is best not to rely only on the readings at your doctor’s office as some individuals suffer from “white coat” hypertension – their BP is up only when they are at the doctor’s office. Others have “masked” hypertension – higher when not in the doctor’s office. Prognosis is best related to home BP. But for home blood pressure readings, you should not use finger or wrist units – only regular upper arm units. Read More
To help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in the millions of Americans currently living with high blood pressure, the American Medical Association (AMA) is offering six tips that Americans can take to improve their heart health. The release of the tips coincides with the first day of American Heart Month.
“As American Heart Month gets underway, we encourage all Americans to take control of their heart health by monitoring their blood pressure levels and making healthy lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of serious health consequences associated with high blood pressure,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. “An overwhelming number of Americans are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure—putting them at increased risk for heart attack and stroke. By empowering more patients to monitor and control their blood pressure, we will continue to not only help improve health outcomes for patients, but also reduce health care costs.”
The AMA’s six tips for improving heart health to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, include the following:
Know your blood pressure numbers—visit LowerYourHBP.org to find resources on understanding your numbers and take necessary steps to get your high blood pressure—or hypertension—under control. There are often no symptoms or signs of high blood pressure, often referred to as the “silent killer,” but if left untreated the condition damages the blood vessels and increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions. Read More