News Release: Faculty Experts

Feb. 11,  2009

Emory Experts Provide Tips that Can Lead to Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. The risk of heart disease increases with age. There is a greater risk of heart disease for a man over age 45 or a woman over age 55. And, there is greater risk if an individual has a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.

The good news is that there are many lifestyle choices that can help reduce chances of getting heart disease. Emory Heart & Vascular Center experts suggest considering the follow steps to heart health:

Exercise. Just 30 minutes a day, five days a week of aerobic activity can significantly lower your risk of stroke, heart attack and adult onset diabetes.

Eat healthy. High fiber, high protein and low sodium foods help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure – both of which contribute to heart disease. Many cardiologists recommend following diets that focus on healthy oils, lean meats and lots of fruit and vegetables such as the Mediterranean Diet or the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet.

Enjoy fish often. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that consuming eight ounces of fish weekly could cut the risk of stroke in half.

Lose weight if you need to. Being 30 lbs. over your ideal weight dramatically increases your chances of having heart disease – as well as diabetes, gallbladder problems and some forms of arthritis.

Don't smoke! If you quit, blood vessels and coronary tissues will respond fairly quickly, and your risk of heart disease will drop accordingly.

Get screened for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends routine screenings for people as young as 20, if they have significant risk factors or a strong family history, and for most people beginning at 40. Early screenings can detect early stages of plaque buildup, but through diet, exercise and medication, you can reduce the plaque – and maybe even reverse it. Check with your doctor to determine how frequently you should schedule a screening.

Minimize stress. Exercising, meditating, maintaining a positive attitude and talking through issues to relieve stress are all great ways to help alleviate the stress in your life, and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Control your blood pressure. Monitor your blood pressure with regular doctor’s visits and try the National Institutes of Health's DASH diet. It’s rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods, and low in total and saturated fat.

Control your cholesterol. Unfortunately, cholesterol has no symptoms and only your doctor can tell for sure if you have high cholesterol. If you do, it’s important that you maintain your medication schedule – reducing cholesterol can significantly lower your risk of heart disease.

Prevent and manage diabetes. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with diabetes. Talk with your doctor about your risk and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce risk and avoid this disease.

For more on heart health, visit Emory’s Make Every Day Count at  http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/departments/heart/heartstories/index.html.

The Emory Heart & Vascular Center is committed to providing clinically excellent cardiovascular patient care, promoting overall heart health, pioneering innovative clinical research, and training the best heart specialists in the world. The Center is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top heart and cardiovascular health centers in the country. In addition, many of Emory's cardiologists and surgeons are consistently recognized as Atlanta's Top Doctors by Atlanta Magazine and as America's Top Doctors.

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