What can I do to prevent a heart attack?

What can I do to prevent a heart attack?

Certain factors, like your family history, can't be changed. Other things you can't do much about are your gender (males get more heart attacks earlier than do women) and age. However, other risk factors can be improved.

Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor. Stopping smoking cuts your risk.

High cholesterol and other lipids, which heighten your risk, can be helped with diet, exercise, and in some cases medications.

Weight reduction helps overweight people, especially those with a "beer belly."

Diabetes is less of a risk if well controlled.

High blood pressure can sometimes be controlled with diet and exercise, and if it isn't, many effective drugs are available.

A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a heart attack if you suddenly exert yourself strenuously. Just because regular exercise helps cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension does not mean you should throw yourself into a program. If you are serious about changing your risk factor, do it in conjunction with your doctor.

Female hormones can decrease the risk of a heart attack after menopause. Aspirin helps, too: a whole aspirin tablet daily (coated is easier on the stomach) for men and women with angina or established coronary artery disease: a mini-dose aspirin for folks without known heart problems.

The bottom line is to eat right; exercise regularly; don't smoke; see your doctor; and pick your ancestors carefully.

By Dr. Flash Gordon

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