Marquette General Heart Institute
Prevention - Heart Disease
The best weapon
against heart disease is knowledge,
and that's why we emphasize prevention and early detection of heart
disease. Our cardiac rehabilitation program provides realistic
plans for exercise and lifestyle changes, with home exercise programs
available to help patients maintain their exercise and dietary programs.
Some ways you could prevent a heart attack
Maintain your ideal weight.Obesity is an independent risk factor for heart disease. This means that it can lead to cardiovascular problems in the absence of any other risk factors. Individuals with central or abdominal obesity, or those with frequent weight shifts are at increased risk.
Evaluate your family history. Heart attacks, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and strokes have a strong correlation with family members. If your family has a history of cardiovascular disease, you should begin a critical preventive program. If either of your parents suffered a heart attack before the age of 50, you are at especially high risk.
Stop smoking and avoid passive smoke.The risk of coronary artery disease as well as arteriosclerosis and stroke is significantly increased with smoking. Furthermore, a smoker who has a heart attack is two to four times more likely to die from it than a non-smoker.
Diagnose hypertension and treat it appropriately.Sixty million Americans have hypertension, and many of them are untreated. Your risk of heart attack increases as your blood pressure rises. With blood pressure above 130/85, your risk increases dramatically.
Evaluate your personality and consider a stress reduction program. People who frequently display aggressive and hostile behavior, who anger easily and have a low tolerance for frustration have an increased incidence of heart attacks.
Start a daily exercise program.If some type of structured program is not possible, increase your daily activities. Thirty minutes of daily exercise is excellent, even if performed in ten minute intervals. Brisk walking has been shown to be an excellent way to exercise. Exercise is one of the few ways to increase HDL or "good" cholesterol. Increasing your level of fitness decreases your risk for heart attack.
Obtain a diabetic evaluation from your physician. One out of every three elderly Americans has adult onset diabetes. People with a family history of diabetes and/or excessive weight are especially at risk for diabetes. Heart disease is five times more prevalent in diabetics.
Choose a diet with no more than 20% to 30% of calories coming from fats.Saturated fats should be avoided. Protein intake should be moderate. Carbohydrates should be the complex type, recommended on an individualized basis. Avoid simple sugars as well as excessive starch, since these can increase insulin blood levels and make you crave additional sugars and starches. A diet high in fish is excellent for reducing the risk of heart attack.
Know your total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels.The desirable levels are: for total cholesterol, less than 200 milligrams per deciliter; for HDL, more than 35 mg/dl; for LDL, less than 130 mg/dl; for triglycerides: less than 130 mg/dl. The ratio of total cholesterol to HDL is thought to be a better predictor of heart disease than either total cholesterol or HDL alone. To find your ratio, divide your total cholesterol by your HDL. The desirable ratio is less than 3.5. The National Cholesterol Education Program promotes the so called "two for one" rule: a 10% reduction in total cholesterol reduces the risk of heart attack 20%.
Start supplementation with antioxidant vitamins - C, E, and beta-carotene.These are important in preventing heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Vitamin and mineral recommendations should be made on an individualized basis. Nutritional management can be geared for specific problems, such as hypertension, elevated cholesterol, arrhythmia, diabetes, and other cardiovascular problems.