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Heart Attack Prevention

Q: Can heart attacks be prevented?

Dr. Donnica:
There is no "cure" for heart disease, just as there is no certain preventive method for a heart attack. But there are many strategies for effective management.

Dr. Donnica's Top Ten Tips for Reducing the Risk of Heart Attack: for you and your Family:

  1. See your physician regularly. Work together to develop a comprehensive prevention plan or a treatment plan if you have already had a heart attack. Follow it!
  2. If you smoke, STOP! If you need help, ask your doctor.
  3. If you have any of the following conditions, work with your doctor to control them: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, elevated cholesterol, and thyroid disease.
  4. Eat a heart healthy diet. Reduce dietary intake of fat, cholesterol, triglycerides, and salt. Increase dietary water, fish, fiber, soy, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, citrus fruits, and vegetables. Consider supplements if necessary, particularly of calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins (especially folic acid).
  5. Communicate with your physician: inform your doctor promptly about new symptoms or any medication side effects.
  6. Practice stress management: many of the symptoms of heart attack and heart disease are unpredictable and emotionally draining. This can be very stressful. In addition, stress, in and of itself, is a risk factor for heart attack and heart disease.
  7. If you have signs and symptoms of clinical depression, see your doctor. Research shows that when depression is treated, heart disease patients have a greatly increased survival rate as well as improved quality of life.
  8. If you are over age 40, ask your doctor if you should be taking daily low-dose aspirin for heart attack prevention. Aspirin protects against heart attacks by thinning the blood, making it less likely to clot. Here is a critical example, however, where a potentially life-saving therapy has only been studied sufficiently in men. Early data from a large observational study in women, however, suggest that this approach may help women over 50 reduce their heart attack risk as well: they found that women who took an aspirin from 1 to 6 times per week had one third fewer heart attacks than women who didn't take aspirin.
  9. Begin a mild to moderate exercise program; follow it.
  10. Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)! The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that as many as 200,000 lives could be saved each year if CPR were performed early enough. If you or someone in your family (or one of your co-workers or neighbors) has heart disease or asthma, or has had a previous heart attack, this is essential. I also strongly recommend that all care-givers (babysitters, nannies, teachers, childcare workers, coaches, and all health care personnel) take the time to learn CPR and keep your certification up to date. The steps are easy to learn and it may allow you the privilege to save someone's life.

Created: 9/24/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

 See your physician regularly. Work together to develop a comprehensive prevention plan or a treatment plan if you have already had a heart attack. Follow it! 

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