Risk Factors & Prevention
Oftentimes, patients are unaware that they are at risk of heart disease. While patients may “feel healthy” most of the time, they can still be at risk of heart and vascular disease. Harbin Clinic cardiologists want to empower patients, at any age, to know their risk factors and ways to prevent heart disease. Start by understanding your risks, and then consider how your daily habits affect your heart.
Prevention falls into two main categories: preventing heart disorders in general, and monitoring and treating any existing heart problems.
Preventing Heart Disorders
Treat or, when possible, eliminate risk factors that may lead to cardiovascular disease or cardiac arrhythmias.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Living a “heart-healthy” life is the best way to decrease the chances of developing heart disorders. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy, low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and other vitamin-rich foods are the cornerstones of “heart-healthy” living.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Know your family’s history of any cardiovascular diseases or conditions.
- Stop using tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke. Tobacco contributes to as much as one-third of all cardiovascular diseases.
- Avoid or limit the intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other substances that may contribute to arrhythmias or heart disease.
- Avoid unnecessary stress, such as anger, anxiety, or fear, and find ways to manage or control stressful situations that cannot be avoided.
- Have regular physical exams and promptly report any unusual symptoms to a physician.
- Seek treatment for underlying health problems that may contribute to arrhythmias and heart disease. Problems include atherosclerosis (“clogged” arteries), heart valve damage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and thyroid disease.
Risk Factors: Monitoring and Treating Existing Heart Disorders
Effectively treating any existing heart disorder is the best way to prevent it from becoming more severe.
- Work with your physician, and schedule regular check-ups.
- Understand how various conditions contribute to your existing heart disorder and increase the risk of arrhythmias.
- Learn about heart disorders, tests, and treatment options, and discuss them with caregivers.
- Find out if the heart’s electrical system and its ability to pump blood efficiently have been affected by heart muscle damage from a heart attack or another cause.
- Learn the importance of an ejection fraction (EF). EF is a measure of the proportion, or fraction, of blood the heart pumps out with each beat. An abnormally low EF is the single most important factor in predicting the risk of sudden cardiac death.
- Follow treatment plans, and take all medications as prescribed.
- Report any new symptoms or changes in existing symptoms to physicians as soon as possible.