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How to Prevent Heart Disease
Anyone can have a heart attack. To help prevent this, start by knowing your risk factors.
Risk factors for a heart attack can be categorized in three ways:
- Medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
- Personal behaviors like smoking, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise
- Personal characteristics like a family history of heart disease, increased age, and male gender as men, statistically, have more heart attacks than women).
Once you learn your risk factors, you can take the following steps:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re having trouble keeping weight off, you may want to consider attending one of our weight-loss seminars.
- Quit smoking. And while it’s hard to kick the habit, it’s even harder to recover from a heart attack. We host classes that can help you.
- Communicate with your doctor and take any of your prescription medicine to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Even when you do everything right, call 911 right away if you experience symptoms of a heart attack.
April Traxler, Chest Pain Coordinator at Frye Heart Center, has known heart disease patients in their early 40s who exercise, eat healthy and have no family history. Yet they, too, can have heart attacks.
“Bad things can happen,” Traxler said. “Even if you have no risk factors, you can still have a heart attack. You can eat everything healthy, you can exercise all the time, and even people who are the perfect weight, they can still have a heart attack.”
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and the second-leading cause of death in North Carolina (after cancer). The profile for heart attack risk has historically been older men who smoked. That profile is changing nationally, with younger people -- particularly women with diabetes who are overweight.
At Frye, Traxler has treated heart attack patients as young as 17, with an increasing number coming in because of substance abuse. But more common symptoms like high blood pressure can silently damage your body and show no symptoms.
It’s important to be proactive about heart attack prevention, she said. That’s one reason why Frye Medical Center’s outreach team goes around to church groups, community organizations and local events in and around Hickory to promote heart-healthy lifestyles.
Among their recommendations: make an appointment with your doctor, have your blood pressure checked regularly and follow your doctor’s instructions. And if you do experience any heart attack symptoms, the Frye Heart Center has a team available 24 hours, every day including holidays.
“We’re here, we’re passionate about it, and we would love to have you come on in and be evaluated and head things off before they do a lot of heart damage,” Traxler said.
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