Cardiologist Questions Heart Attack

What are precautionary steps to take to prevent a heart attack?

My father died of a heart attack five years ago, and it seems like a common thing for the men in my family to have. I would like to know the best ways to prevent it from happening.

6 Answers

Modifiable risk factors are: diet, with consuming a low-fat diet as rec. by the American Heart Association. weight loss with target BMI 24, keeping cholesterol in check with total cholesterol less than 200 and LDL less than 100, keeping blood pressure at target 110/70, and keeping sugars at a target <5.7. Lastly, participate at least 30 minutes per day 6 days in aerobic exercising.
The best way to prevent it is to see a preventive cardiologist who will perform several ultrasound tests, obtain lab work, and may recommend additional testing. Prevention is the best way to NOT have a heart attack or stroke!
See a cardiologist to assess your cardiovascular risk at the current time. That way, you can modify any risk factor that you might have and do not know about. Also, depending on your age and sex, a calcium score of the coronary arteries would be valuable to know.
Heart attack means an abrupt cessation of blood and oxygen to part of the heart muscle, usually threatening sudden death or permanently damages and weakens the heart, causing various problems for the rest of one's life. The cause is typically related to a sudden clotting and closure of one of the coronay arteries feeding the heart muscle.

Often times, an individual may have one or many serious blockages and doesn’t get a heart attack because they don’t get the abrupt total blockage of any of the coronary arteries. Such an individual may have some suggestive symptoms such as a discomfort in the chest or shortness of breath when during physical activity. Sometimes, the symptoms are not very typical, especially in women, like on/off cold sweats, indigestion, fatigue, or a chocking sensation. Often times, people with hidden blockages may carry with them risk factors of coronary disease such as family history of coronary disease at age between 40 and 70, family history of immediate family members, like siblings, parents, first-line blood family members. Other risks include being over 45 years old, especially men, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity with poor dietary habits of high fat and high cholesterol, and lack of exercise.

If one has three or more risks, it would be prudent to follow up with a physician for evaluation to rule out a hidden coronary disease. A stress test is sometimes recommended and may help if the risks are present. Occasionally, there may not be any symptoms, even with the presence of high risks. A stress test may uncover a clue of the serious blockage, and further testing and appropriate treatment may prevent a heart attack and save a life.

To summarize this:
-If you are in the risk group and having suspicious symptoms, seek help immediately before sudden occlusion of coronary artery, which typically causes a heart attack to occur.
-If you have a high-risk profile, consult with your doctor to see if a stress test is warranted.
-To reduce your risk of having a heart attack, you need to lower you risk profile by addressing to an aggressive strategy to help lower the risk factors by avoiding smoking, or treatment of high cholesterol as your doctor recommends. Keep your blood pressure under good control by adhering to the medications, exercise, weight reduction, and restricting sodium/salt consumption and stay well hydrated.
-Strict dietary measures, exercise, and medications for controlling blood sugar in the case of diabetes mellitus.
-Check with your doctor if you should be on one baby aspirin daily.
-Stay on guard if you have significant risks factors and are having suspicions symptoms. Again, finding a blockage and treating it if necessary may avert a heart attack.
-If you are already a patient with coronary disease, your risk of getting a heart attack can be reduced by following the same strategy.
Genetics is something you can’t do anything about. But there are known risk factors that can be modified by you to decrease the risk, such as a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy and small food portions and at least 4 days of exercise. Avoiding smoking. If you are diabetic, control diabetes very tightly and controlling blood pressure as well.
Exercise regularly. Eat a heart healthy diet. Try to achieve optimal weight. Get enough sleep. Avoid stress. ( Not easy these days!)

Check your risk factors:
Don’t smoke!!
If you are diabetic, adhere to your medications and diet and get your A1c as low as possible at least under 7 preferably under 6. Keep your systolic blood pressure under 120-130 if possible with a low salt heart healthy diet (DASH) and with meds if necessary. (Most of the time 2-4 meds are needed to achieve optimal BP.) Hopefully you won’t experience side effects. These often subside with time.

Keep bad cholesterol LDL-C under 100, under 70 even. The lower the better! If you need a statin, be thankful we have them!

The closer you get to these goals without meds the better but don’t be afraid of pills. Be thankful we have medications that can help us achieve our goals without becoming a hunter-gatherer in some remote paradise!
Depending on your overall risk and other factors you might want to take low dose aspirin daily. Ask your doctor about this.
You obviously can’t change your sex, your age, or your parents!
Good luck!