Q: Heart disease runs in the men in my family—do I need to be concerned?
A: Having any close family members with heart disease can increase a woman’s risk. And, although heart disease is most common with women over 65 years of age, “heart disease begins decades before,” says. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Director of Women and Heart Disease of the Heart and Vascular Institute of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. When you turn 20 is when you should start taking care of your heart by knowing your family history and getting blood tests (how often you have blood tests will depend on factors such whether you smoke or not, your stress levels, etc.).
For preventing the onset of heart disease, Dr. Steinbaum recommends the three Es:
Exercise “Get out there and exercise 30 minutes a day. Getting your heart rate up is important.”
Eating “Follow a balanced diet. There are certain foods that reduce LDL: psyllium, which can be found in products such as Kellogg’s Guardian cereal, or taken as a supplement; nuts and olive oil, whole grains; certain fruits, such as apples and pears, which are both high in fibre, are excellent choices.”
Empowerment “You need to know your own risk. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked out, and check for diabetes. Take charge of lifestyle changes [such as kick-starting a workout regime] to prevent the onset of heart disease.”
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