Reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke with preventive care

Reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke with preventive care

Are you at risk for a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases?

Heart disease may be the furthest thing from your mind, especially if you are young, have no symptoms or no history of health problems. You may be thinking “my family history is bad and there is nothing I do can except accept my fate” or “I’m too young to have a problem” or “I’m too busy to make changes in my life.” The excuses can go on and on…and honestly, we’ve heard them all.

In reality, though, you can make changes, even small ones, to lower your overall risk of heart disease.

The Risk Factors

The first step in determining your risk is to identify your risk factors. What exactly is a risk factor? According to the World Health Organization, a risk factor is a characteristic that increases your likelihood of developing a disease or injury. Some risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Race
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease at an early age

Now that we have identified risk factors, let’s discuss ways to eliminate or modify your risk factors.  Of course, some risk factors cannot be changed. These include things like age, gender, race and family history:

  • Age: According to the American Heart Association computations, about 80% of people who die from cardiovascular disease are 65 years and older. Age itself increases your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Gender: Males have an increased risk for heart disease.
  • Race: People of African, Hispanic and Native Americans descent are at a greater risk for developing cardiovascular heart disease.
  • Family history: Your risk of developing heart disease increases if you have a relative who developed heart disease early, before the age of 55.

Now, let’s look at some modifiable risk factors:

  • High blood pressure (BP) is defined as higher than 130/90 on at least two separate occasions on separate days. The target BP is 120/80 regardless of age.
  • Smoking is the most preventable risk factor. Smokers have more than twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Cholesterol: LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to artery blockages or plaques. HDL (good) cholesterol helps keep LDL from sticking to artery walls and reduces plaque buildup.
  • Diabetes/pre-diabetes increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Lack of physical exercise: adults should get a weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both.

Lipids & Cardiovascular Prevention Clinic

Making the long-term changes outlined above are sometimes easier said than done. So, we established a Lipids & Cardiovascular Prevention Clinic at our Teays Valley clinic to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by helping you customize, manage and maintain a health management plan specific to your needs.

Our clinic team includes a cardiologist and nurse practitioner, who are both board certified. A dietitian and exercise specialist will join the team in the near future.

Clinic services include:

  • An assessment of your overall cardiovascular risk
  • Lowering risk thru a combination of lifestyle changes with counseling for diet and exercise
  • Prescribing and monitoring medications when appropriate

Consider your risks and decide if our Prevention Clinic could benefit you. For more information or to schedule an appointment at Marshall Cardiology – Teays Valley, please call 304-691-8500.

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Gina Quijano, FNP-BC

Gina is a certified nurse practitioner at Marshall Cardiology in Chapmanville and Teays Valley.

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