Certainly, the holiday season provides an excellent opportunity to develop that history at family gatherings, say physicians at St. Francis Medical Group Indiana Heart Physicians. Knowing the health challenges your family members have had can help guide you to pay more attention to that same aspect of your health. Here’s the information that’s needed:
· If relatives have had a heart attack or stroke, how old were they (if they were younger than 50 years old, your risk of the same thing happening is high)?
· Who in the family has high cholesterol, high blood pressure?
· Does diabetes run in the family?
· Have your parents had surgery for heart valve disease?
· Does any family member have peripheral vascular disease (bad circulation in the legs), aneurysms and blocked carotid arteries? These are all signs of cardiovascular disease.
“Identifying cardiovascular risk factors in your family is a vital step in assessing your own risk,” says Franciscan St. Francis cardiologist Carson Turner, M.D. “With this information, you can begin to make important lifestyle changes to decrease your risk.”
Don’t give up just because you may have a family history of heart disease. There are controllable risk factors: Don’t smoke; maintain a healthy weight; exercise 30-60 minutes 5 days per week or simply increase the level of current activity; control blood pressure (less than 120/80); control cholesterol levels; and control blood sugar if diabetic.
To learn more about programs and services available at Franciscan St. Francis Heart Center, go to myheartcare.net.