February is National Heart Health Month. It’s an important time to create awareness of heart health and to take better care of ourselves, which in turn helps to reduce the alarming mortality rate from heart-related diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease is the world’s number one cause of death, killing more than 17 million people every year.
You’re in direct control over many things that can influence your heart health. It’s up to you to choose how seriously you take this responsibility. Some people find it easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Others will do so only after being diagnosed with a symptom of heart disease, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Whatever your inspiration, the benefits of a healthy heart are worth the effort. In fact, your entire body will be better for it. Good overall health can also protect you from type 2 diabetes, asthma, joint pain, and other chronic diseases and conditions.
Am I at risk of heart disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke are:
- High blood pressure.
- High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
- Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure.
- Unhealthy diet.
- Physical inactivity.
Talk to your doctor and find out.
If any of these risk factors apply to you, we encourage you to talk to your doctor and ask these questions:
1. Am I at risk of heart problems in the future?
Your primary care doctor or a cardiologist can evaluate your current health and help you understand your risk for future heart disease, stroke and other concerns. Knowing your risk will help you make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health.
2. What tests are you ordering?
Knowing why your doctor or cardiologist is ordering a test allows you to ask more questions and better prepare for each test and your next appointment.
3. What should my blood pressure be?
Knowing your ideal blood pressure will help you monitor any changes if you take your own blood pressure at home.
4. Are there any activities I should avoid?
Exercise is good for your overall health, but if you have heart disease, your cardiologist may want you to avoid certain activities.
5. How does my family history affect me?
Heart disease risk factors are closely linked to your family history. Knowing if anyone in your family has had heart disease will help your cardiologist better diagnose and manage your care.
6. How does my cholesterol affect my heart?
Cholesterol is associated with increased risk of heart disease. Talk to your primary care doctor or cardiologist about what your ideal cholesterol levels should be.
7. What treatment options are available?
Knowing what treatment options are available for you will give you an idea of what medication, procedures or lifestyle changes you may need in the future.
8. What symptoms indicate my condition is worsening?
Symptoms of heart disease vary across different conditions and people. It’s important that your provider goes over all warning signs specific to you.
Learn more online.
For more information on heart health, check out two of our popular podcast episodes about heart health from last year and the year before. And read our previous blog article about how a healthy heart affects your whole body.
And find even more great information about heart health from our partners: