While there are many different categories of heart disease, prevention of all or any of these problems is essentially the same. Being aware of your family history, and sharing it with your physician is always a good place to begin. Your doctor can help you establish a healthy diet -- high in fiber, low in salt and fat -- along with a regular exercise program. Reducing your alcohol intake is also suggested. Smoking places an added burden on your heart, so, if you smoke, quit as soon as possible.
Once you've been diagnosed with heart disease, seeing your doctor regularly is vital. Depending on your individual health needs, a variety of diagnostic tests may be recommended. These include EKGs and blood tests (ex. cholesterol screening). Your doctor may also recommend you take aspirin or other medication - but check with your physician first before taking any medication.
Much has been written about cholesterol levels but the facts are simple: good heart healthy practice includes reducing overall levels and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Here's why: HDL is the beneficial type of cholesterol that removes harmful LDL particles from your arteries before they can block blood flow. Once the blood flow is restricted, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, and in some cases may not be able to get the blood to where it needs to go. So knowing your cholesterol levels is not enough. You should pay attention to your LDL vs. your HDL levels to have an accurate reading on how cholesterol can affect your heart.
Current guidelines say 35 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl) is normal, but most doctors hope for HDL counts that are at least 70.
What can you do to increase your HDL and lower your LDL? Quit smoking, eat foods rich in monounsaturated fats like peanut butter, exercise regularly and monitor your fat intake.
An Aspirin a Day ...
According to guidelines from the FDA, taking one aspirin a day can, in some cases, -reduce the risk of death in patients with suspected acute heart attacks (myocardial infarctions)
- prevent recurrent heart attacks
- reduce the risk of heart attacks or sudden death in patients with unstable and chronic stable angina pectoris (chest pain).
However, patients should check with their doctors before taking any medication. Some recent studies have also shown that aspirin may interact negatively with other over the counter medications. Furthermore, people with allergies to aspirin or other salicylates, asthma, uncontrolled high blood pressure, severe liver or kidney disease and bleeding disorders should not take aspirin as it may worsen these conditions.
The prevalence of heart disease and stroke is two to four times greater in
adults with diabetes than those without diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s important that you speak to your physician if you have diabetes or have a history of diabetes in your family.
Management of the disease is crucial, and your physician may choose to put you on medication or to monitor your heart health more closely.