When you think of fatal diseases, the one that evokes the most emotion and receives the greatest amount of attention is cancer. But the fact is, cancer is not the #1 disease which kills Americans. More of us will die from heart disease than all the cancers combined. Heart disease can kill slowly with the onset of Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), or it can strike suddenly and be fatal to a seemingly healthy adult. Do you know what your risk is for a heart attack? How healthy is your heart?
Most Heart Attacks Occur in “Healthy” Adults
It may be surprising, and frightening, that according to the American Heart Association, 50% of the men and 64% of the women who suffered a fatal heart attack had no previous symptoms. The detection of heart problems though the usual stress test or CAT scan is not always reliable or accurate. In addition, these tests are expensive. Without any outward signs or symptoms, there may not be an obvious reason for your physician to order them.
While there is no single, definitive test which will absolutely pinpoint a non-symptomatic heart issue, there are some proactive things you can do.
Always be aware that heart problems become “genderless” as you grow older. By the time we reach our 60’s, a woman’s risk for heart disease will be the same as a man’s. So it’s important that all of us be aware of what steps we should take to protect our hearts
Have a Healthy Lifestyle
Change your lifestyle to have more of a “heart healthy focus. Eating right and regular exercise are keys to a healthy heart and long life.
Whole grains, fruit, vegetables and lean meat should always be the main staple of your diet. And skip anything loaded with fat and sugar! Both of these have strong ties to the causes of heart disease and sudden heart attacks.
Exercise should include both cardio for heart endurance, and weights to build muscle. You should establish a routine to get out and exercise at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
Ask the Right Questions
Equally important is a resolution to be proactive in asking your physician about your heart health. Too often we tend to “go along” with whatever our doctor tells us, and do not take an active part in the discussion about our own health. Take an interest in what tests your doctor is ordering and what they may, or may not, show.
A New Test May Give Early Detection of a Heart Problem
Four years ago, a major study, called the Jupiter study, paved the way for use of a much more cost-effective test to help detect heart problems, even in healthy individuals. This test measures a specific protein which indicates inflammation in the arteries and veins. Inflammation that may go undetected by the more traditional tests.
This high sensitive C-reactive Protein test, or hs-CRP, combined with your family history, lifestyle, cholesterol and triglyceride tests will give that extra information your physician needs to detect any unknown inflammation which may be affecting your heart. Even in people who have no other symptoms.
Remember: the way to a healthy heart is to be involved with your life. Work out an eating and exercise program to benefit you, and be more proactive with your doctor. Be honest about your history and your lifestyle, and ask if adding the hs-CRP test to the regular cholesterol panel is appropriate for you. Take every step that you can to ensure your heart health. One day it may save your life!
Author Bio: Vicki Lee is a freelance writer and the head partner in www.ghostwritingpartners.com. She has over 25 years of experience in management practices as well as in healthcare’s business issues.