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The Cardiologist's Wife - Taking Care of Your Heart Part II
Feb 14, 2018

Last week I began a series on heart disease prevention by focusing on things you can do each decade of your life. You are never too young to start taking care of your heart and neither is it ever too late. Studies show that there are immediate benefits to making healthy lifestyle adjustments like exercising at least 2 to 3 hours a week and eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. To recap last week’s post, you should exercise regularly, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding processed foods and stop smoking if you have the habit. Learn how to manage your stress and keep a written record of your family’s health history as it could shed a light on your own possible health problems.

Forties

Have your blood pressure checked regularly and have a fasting blood glucose test by age 45. Diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand so you should know your risk for developing diabetes too. More than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese and the majority of those individuals will be diabetic or pre-diabetic. Managing your weight and blood pressure will go a long way to maintaining good health.

Don’t ignore a snoring problem. Snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition where the soft tissue in the throat relaxes during sleep so that the airway is partially blocked. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that leads to pauses in breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are often tired and irritable from a lack of sleep, have high blood pressure and suffer from reflux. Sleep apnea has been tied to high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

Memorize the warning signs of a heart attack. If you think you could be having a heart attack, call 911 and let the doctors decide. Don’t wait, your life could depend on it.

Fifties

Get a yearly physical. It is important to catch problems as early as possible for the best outcomes. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, peripheral artery disease or heart disease, follow your doctor’s treatment plan and take your medicines as prescribed. Work extra hard to make those lifestyle changes that will make a difference in the quality of your life like eating a healthy diet, exercising, giving up smoking and excessive alcohol use.

Sixties and beyond

In your sixties, ask your physician to do an ankle-brachial index test to check for peripheral artery disease (PAD) as part of your regular physical exam. PAD is a condition in which the arteries of your arms or legs are narrowed or blocked. This can lead to circulatory problems, leg pain even while resting or the loss of a limb.

At any age, be aware of unusual symptoms such as shortness of breath or unexplained fatigue, leg swelling, heart palpitations, confusion, dizziness and certainly, any pain or discomfort in your chest.

You are responsible for your health so make taking good care of yourself a lifelong priority.

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