Heart Health Tips For Every Age And Gender

April 25, 2014

HeartWhen it comes to heart health, it’s always good to stick to the basics: eat right, sleep well, and exercise often. But there’s more you should know! Follow these heart health tips to make sure your ticker’s working right at every age:

1) Trust your gut. Most doctors won’t do much if you have concerns in your twenties, but if you feel something’s wrong, get a second, or third opinion. You might have a genetic risk factor (one that causes high cholesterol, for instance) that should be managed from early on in life. Or you might have a birth defect that went undetected until your late teens/early twenties.

Either way, young people aren’t immune to heart issues, and should make sure they have a doctor who will take concerns about them seriously.

2) Don’t ignore any signs of heart distress: trouble breathing, palpitations, pain in EITHER arm (left is most famously associated with heart attacks, but sometimes you can have symptoms, like numbness, in your right hand or fingers).

Also be aware that heart attack symptoms may not be as dramatic as they are on film, so don’t wait to get checked out—if you aren’t sure, try an urgent care center instead of the ER. (and if they do transfer you, many ERs will put you at the front of the line).

3) Make sure your doctor is on your side: heart health follows a routine screening pattern, but your doc may not go beyond that (being overworked as doctors often are!).

If you have a family history, for instance, ask to be screened for things like blood pressure and cholesterol at a younger age—many people have heart disease in their family tree, but you probably have a stronger picture of that person than your doc will ask about (for example: an overweight, very old relative having a heart attack isn’t as worrisome as a 40 something or otherwise healthy parent).

And remind your doctor about past red flags: sometimes they don’t read charts thoroughly enough.

Don’t leave it to your doctor—advocate for yourself! You’ll also be more likely to receive better care if your doctor senses you’ll take care of yourself above the bare minimum.

4) Work out with friends! Physical activity can trigger a cardiac event, so don’t go jogging alone at 5AM.

In what ways are you proactive about your heart health?

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