When it comes to your heart, you can never be too careful. Preventing heart conditions, such as cardiac arrest or heart disease, can begin today. Sometimes all it takes to begin making incremental changes is an increased awareness. Your daily habits, both big and small, will determine what kind of life you will lead years from now. Bayhealth Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Patel, MD, offers 5 tips to avoid the risks of waiting to have your heart checked:
1. Be your own health advocate – It is vital that a patient is doing their best to care for themselves at home. “We’ll do all that we can once you come in for an emergent situation, but we can’t control what happens before that,” shares Dr. Patel. Care for your heart by eating a heart healthy diet, exercising 30 minutes 5x a week, and avoid unhealthy habits like chronic smoking.
2. Know your history – If you have a family medical history that includes heart conditions, it is best for your doctor to monitor those things closely. Treating symptoms early can save your life. “Genetics play a huge role, and while you cannot change genetics, you can be proactive,” says Dr. Patel.
3. Do not ignore symptoms – If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest pain — which can feel like persistent heartburn — jaw pain, pain in the leg, or your heart is racing, it is best to have it checked right away. “Especially if your symptoms increase upon exertion but then seem to go away while you rest,” says Dr. Patel. This can be a true indication that your heart is in duress. The longer you wait, the more challenging it can be to treat.
4. Be aware of your cardiovascular risk – Race, ethnicity, and gender all have factors that play into your risk. For example, “females are more likely than males to have heart attack symptoms that aren’t related to chest pain,” shares Dr. Patel. Hypertension or high blood pressure is being discovered in more young adults than ever before, especially young black men. Knowing your specific risks will help you stay on top of your health.
5. See a primary care doctor regularly – Your doctor can get to know you when you come in regularly and keep track of your normal vitals. This will aid them in knowing when something is irregular. A patient is more likely to share if they are experiencing a symptom when they know and trust their doctor well. “Routine maintenance can catch things like high cholesterol, which in most cases don’t have symptoms,” says Dr. Patel.
Trust your instincts. We tend to have an intuition when something is going on with our health and sometimes, we choose to ignore it. But your best life is waiting for you. Do not keep it waiting another day by putting off a heart-healthy lifestyle or ignoring symptoms. Be proactive in your health and live intentionally, it might save your life.
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