Could you be at risk for heart attack? According to physicians of the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, protecting your heart boils down to four fundamentals: family, food, fitness and friends.
Discussing health history with family members may be just as priceless as a prized heirloom. If you have a family member who had heart disease at an early age (for example, a mom or sister younger than 65, or a dad or brother younger than age 55), it’s important to tell your doctor and get screened for additional risk factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure. You can’t control age or your family history, but knowing if you’re at risk can help you maintain control of your life.
It’s never too early or too late to develop heart-healthy food habits. Try to avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol, and limit the sodium in your diet. And remember: a heart-healthy diet isn’t about saying no, it’s about saying yes to nutritious and delicious whole grains, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.
Regular physical activity can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, and may help lower blood pressure. You can exercise in a fitness facility or as part of your regular routine — such as walking your dog, gardening or playing with your children or grandchildren. The important thing is to find something you enjoy and do it regularly.
A report by The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that obesity can spread through social ties. In the study, a person’s chances of becoming obese were greater if he or she had a friend who became obese in a given interval.
Fortunately, friends can also have a huge effect on each other’s weight loss. Instead of inviting a friend out for a 350-calorie latte, catch up over a brisk walk. Or sign up for a community education fitness class — you might even make some new friends!
Have questions abut heart health? Your doctor can give you a complete checkup as well as information about appropriate screenings and personalized care to help you keep healthy!