Doctors Can Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
People are often surprised when they hear that someone who maintains a healthy diet and exercises regularly has had a heart attack - but your risk is never really zero.
Even someone who runs marathons is at risk of having a heart attack. It doesn’t matter if we did everything right our whole lives; as we age, the risk of having a blocked artery increases.
Our lifetime risk goes up significantly in men over 50 and women over 60 years of age. At this age, I encourage everyone to visit their family doctor for a risk assessment. This involves factoring in one’s age, gender, total cholesterol, good cholesterol and blood pressure; determining if you smoke and/or have diabetes; and bringing in some family history into the equation. Then your doctor can calculate a 10-year risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure. Based on this calculation, we can tell whether you would benefit from cholesterol-lowering therapy with statins.
So often I have patients who say their doctor told them their cholesterol levels were “normal,” but it is usually not normal. It is average. However, the average North American cholesterol is nowhere near that of a Japanese fisherman who only consumes fish through his lifetime and rarely, if ever, has a heart attack. Just because your doctor may say your cholesterol is normal doesn’t mean you’re risk free of ever developing a blocked artery.
There are a lot of men over the age 50 and women over the age of 60 who would benefit from cholesterol treatment, even if their cholesterol levels haven’t changed over the past 10 years.
Diet, exercise and not smoking are all important factors to achieving and maintaining good cardiac health, but age and gender are not modifiable factors when it comes to assessing cardiac risks. Even if you are low risk now, cholesterol lowering could be an effective way of reducing your cardiac risk as you get older.
Read more: www.albertahealthservices.ca/11358.asp
What are you doing to reduce your risk of heart disease and a heart attack?