Heading Off Heart Attacks - Tips To Lower Your Risk of Having a Heart Attack
Angel Biasatti, Director Community and Public Relations, Methodist Mansfield
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women and men. So what can you do to lower your chances of having a heart attack?
Take charge of one’s risk factors, says Nancy Georgekutty, MD, family physician on staff at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. According to Dr. Georgekutty, making time in your life for your health is the single most important thing you can do for yourself. A significant number of neighbors, friends, and families in our community are in danger of developing heart disease.
But people can lower their risk of heart disease with simple lifestyle changes, according to Dr. Georgekutty.
Get regular blood pressure checks, watch your cholesterol levels, and work to improve these numbers if they are not normal. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and maintain an ideal body weight. Choose a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium; and eat whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. For adults, total fat in your diet should stay between 20 and 35 percent of total calories. Saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent. You should also monitor your cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you smoke cigarettes, quit. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start. Be sure to stay away from secondhand smoke, too, she advises.
“One of the easiest things you can do is to get moving. Get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or biking, or even dancing every week. Physical activity strengthens your heart and increases circulation. Plus, it can help you reduce body fat and lose excess weight so your heart doesn’t work as hard. It’s one small step everyone can do,” Dr. Georgekutty says. You can even earn points for the city of Mansfield by registering in the complimentary 2019 It’s Time Texas community challenge at www.ittcommunitychallenge.com
If you are at an increased risk of heart disease because of family history or other inherited genetic factors, early detection is important. You may want to be screened for heart disease sooner or more often than people who are at an average risk. You should discuss your risk factors with your physician.
Screening for heart disease includes routine blood pressure checks. “Similar to heart disease, blood pressure can also go unnoticed and untreated for years until it’s discovered during an exam or when it causes another problem with your health,” says Dr. Georgekutty.
Drink alcohol only moderately, if at all. Women should limit drinking to one alcoholic beverage per day. Men should have no more than two drinks per day. Beware: Consuming too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure.
Find ways to manage stress—it’ll help prevent
both heart disease and high blood pressure, says Dr. Georgekutty. Consider
trying deep breathing or meditation to relax.
Weight and shape can also contribute to heart problems, she says.
“Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. The location of excess fat is also important. Having a shape like an apple—with fat around your waist—may increase health risks more than having fat in other parts of your body,” says Dr. Georgekutty.
She recommends women try to keep your waist size 35 inches or less. And men, try to keep yours equal to or less than 40 inches.
Finally, understand that all heart attacks are not sudden and intense. Many start out slowly with mild pain or discomfort. According to the American Heart Association, chest discomfort; shortness of breath; back, neck, or jaw pain; discomfort in one or both arms; nausea or vomiting; light-headedness or dizziness; or unusual fatigue are all symptoms and warning signs. Listen to your body, and if you suspect these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t wait to call for help. Call 911 for the fastest way to receive lifesaving treatment.
Show your heart some love and take action today by making an appointment with your physician for better heart health.
To find a Methodist Mansfield physician telephone 214-947-6296 or visit www.MethodistHealthSystem.org/FindADoctor.org.
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center, Methodist Health System, or any of its affiliated hospitals..