A doctor can tell you if you have coronary artery disease by discussing your symptoms, especially shortness of breath, taking your medical history, and looking at your risk factors, in particular, smoking, cholesterol, blood pressure, and sugar control, said Dr. Manny Alvarez, managing editor of FoxNewsHealth.com.
According to the American Heart Association, cholesterol is an important part of a healthy body - it produces cell membranes and some hormones, as well as serves other bodily functions. But too much cholesterol can raise your risk for coronary heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack.
When too much LDL (bad cholesterol) circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. With other substances, it can form plaque that may narrow the arteries, making them less flexible. If a clot forms and blocks a narrow artery, a heart attack or stroke can occur.
Many studies suggest that cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. Smoking increases blood pressure and the tendency for blood to clot, according to the American Heart Association. If you continue to smoke after a bypass surgery, you are increasing your risk for recurrent heart problems.
A smoker's risk of heart disease is two to four times greater than a non-smoker's.
Those who do not participate in physical activity are at risk for cardiovascular disease. Activities such as swimming, running, cycling, dancing or walking can lead to a healthier heart.
According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, adults 18 years or older should be getting 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to keeping your heart healthy. Doctors often tell heart disease patients to follow a Mediterranean-style diet, which has an emphasis on healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.
Eating nuts every day, like almonds, walnuts and pistachios is a good way to add healthy fats to your diet.
Eating fish at least three times a week is essential to fighting heart disease. Fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, have omega-3 fatty acids. A balance of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids is a powerful combination to reducing heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Wine contains resveratrol, which prevents platelets in the blood from sticking together and reducing clot formation, thus reducing the risk of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. But remember, everything in moderation!
Heart disease does not discriminate — it's the leading cause of death for both men and women in this country. So in an effort to keep your ticker healthy... here are some helpful tips