Heart Health Tips From a Top Cardiologist
Cut through the heart health confusion. Get tips from a cardiologist about diet, lifestyle, and more.
Do You Know Your Other Heart Health Risk Factors? continued...
A big plus: It doesn't take long for your body -- and your heart in
particular -- to reap the health benefits of quitting. Twenty minutes after
your last cigarette, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Two weeks to
three months later, your circulation and lung function improve. Just one year
after quitting, your excess risk of coronary heart disease is just half that of
You may have other risk factors for heart disease that are not on your
radar. Mosca calls anxiety, anger, depression, and social isolation "silent
epidemics" that are very prevalent, commonly missed, and potentially
dangerous for your heart.
"Depression, for example, is very common, and it's very strongly linked
to heart disease," she says. "If you or someone you love is depressed
or harboring a lot of anger, or seems isolated, encourage them to seek
help. There are many methods to help you deal with these risk
A Healthy Heart: What's Up Your Family Tree?
There are some risk factors for heart disease that you can't control, and
family history is one of them. If a close relative, like a mother, father,
sister, or brother had a heart attack or died of heart disease -- especially at
a young age -- then the health of your heart may be at greater risk as
"Families can share a predisposition to heart disease both because they
have shared genes and a shared lifestyle," says Mosca. You get half your
genes from mom and half your genes from dad -- but you probably also get your
eating and exercise habits from them, too.
"If you have a family history of heart disease, it's important that you
have yourself checked out," says Mosca.
You may find, for example, that you have high cholesterol and it needs to be
managed with medication. On the flip side, you may be greatly reassured to find
out that Dad's heart attack probably had to do with smoking and being
overweight, and you don't share those risk factors. Either way, you can do
something about your risk: genetics is not destiny.
The most important thing to understand about a healthy heart is that many of
the factors that put you at risk for disease lie within your power to
"Even if you're not at high risk now, your most important goal should be
to prevent yourself from developing increased risk," says Mosca. "You
can do that through a heart-healthy lifestyle."