Set Your Heart on Health

Set Your Heart on Health

Plan for the future by staying proactive about heart health.

Written by Suzanna Cisneros

TUp to 50 percent of heart attack patients have normal cholesterol and no prior symptoms.

Up to 50 percent of heart attack patients have normal cholesterol and no prior symptoms.

How’s your heart feeling? With February being American Heart Month, Jason Wischmeyer, M.D., Texas Tech Physicians – Internal Medicine, said it’s more important than ever to ensure your ticker is in tip-top shape.

“Many people make the mistake and wait for something to go wrong like a stroke or heart attack before taking care of their health,” Wischmeyer said. “The key is to know your heart and what you can do for it before an event happens. Your heart is precious to you.”

Know Your Risks

If you have or do any of the following, you may be at risk of heart disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar or diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Use tobacco
  • Family history of heart disease

Wischmeyer said it’s all about the big picture.

“How can you move from reacting after something bad has happened to preventing heart problems in the first place?” Wischmeyer asked. “The answer is simple: take charge of your own health.”

Follow these steps to be proactive about your health:

  • If you take medications, take them regularly. Don’t skip days.
  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke or use other tobacco
  • If you drink, do so only in moderation
  • If you are overweight, begin a weight loss program
  • See your physician annually
  • Attend health screenings in your area

“When you see your doctor for your yearly physical, ask specific questions about your heart health,” Wischmeyer said. “Look for the disease, find it, target it and treat it.”

If you are at risk, ask your physician about atherosclerosis or plaque in the arteries of the heart. Discuss what can be screened to make sure you are not in the early stages of heart disease before it gets worse.

Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

Watch for Signs

“Know your body,” Wischmeyer said. “Know when something does not feel right. Look for symptoms that will help tell you something is going wrong.”

Heart disease symptoms include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Chest tightness
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Inability to exercise
  • Excessive sweating
  • Numbness in legs or arms

Wischmeyer said symptoms can be different in men and women. If you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes, heart disease symptoms can vary.

He added that if you do not have risk factors for heart disease, you should still be proactive with your heart health. Up to 50 percent of heart attack patients have normal cholesterol and may have no prior symptoms.

“Heart disease does not discriminate, therefore, everyone should be vested in their heart health,” Wischmeyer said. “It’s a game changer once you have the disease. People who understand their risks of heart attack and stroke are in a better position to prevent it. Know the facts.”


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