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Q. If my dad had heart attack am I more likely to have one?
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. for women and men. Based on a set of predictable risk factors we can determine your "odds" of developing heart disease, heart attack and even death. 

You may not know this ....

The first symptom of a heart attack is usually sudden DEATH. Hence the saying "he dropped dead". Not really the best way to find out if you ask me. What do you think? It might be better to know your risks, and what you can do to not only improve your "odds" but live a long life filled with vitality and fun!

Everything we know about heart disease we learned from Framingham.

As described in Wikipedia the Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study on residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants. 

Prior to this study almost nothing was known about heart disease or how it developed.  The knowledge we have learned about heart disease may be considered common knowledge concerning heart disease, such as the effects of diet, exercise, and common medications such as aspirin, were all determined from this longitudinal study.To learn more about the Framingham Heart Study click here
How much family history do I need to know to determine my risks?

If you don't know the full history, start with your immediate family. Find out if your brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents had heart disease or stroke and how old they were when they developed these diseases. The more you know the better.

Are there other genetic factors I need to know?

For example, statistics show that African-American women face higher risks for high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Statistics also indicate that 1 in 4 Latina women will suffer from high blood pressure, and nearly half will battle high cholesterol.

How can a former Ironman triathlete get heart disease? For Rick Del Sontro and most of his family, there's no escape. It's a genetic defect that has plagued generation after generation.

Heart Disease: In The Family
Heart Disease: In The Family

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A. Yes, you are more likely, however there are actions you can take to lower you risks.
One question to ask yourself is...
Do I live my life like my dad who had the heart attack?

If you like your dad smokes, is a couch potato, junk food-oholic and never had a medical check up then yes, you will most likely have a heart attack just like your dad did around the same age your dad was when he had his heart attack.

However, you have a choice.

As they say, you can pick your friends, but not your family or your genes. However, how you live your life can either positively impact your health or not.
Even though there is a strong family connection it's not 100%and neither are genetics. Consider this ... even though genetics play between 10-30% of your disease makeup what about the other 70 - 90%? In other words, if there is a family history of heart disease then you are only 30% likely to have a heart attach or 70% unlikely depending on your  lifestyle habits.

It's your everyday decisions that make the difference.

Ready to make a change in your lifestyle behaviors?
Here's what you need to know to get started ...

There are heart disease Risk Factors you CAN NOT control:
  1. Age -  83% of people who die from coronary heart disease are 65+
  2. Being male - men are at greater risk
  3. Family History - Those with close relatives are at greater risk
  4. Race - Risks are higher in African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, and some Asian Americans compared to Caucasians.
There are MORE Risk Factors you CAN control:
  1. Smoking - increases risks by 4X and is the biggest contributor to sudden death.
  2. High Cholesterol - As the cholesterol rises so do your risks
  3. High Blood Pressure - increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and congestive heart failure.
  4. Sedentary Lifestyle - The more activity you do, the lower your risk.
  5. Excess Weight - Unhealthy Eating (high fat, salt and calories) A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is the key to reducing weight.
  6. Diabetes - 3/4 of people with diabetes die of heart disease. Within 10 years of diagnosis the first heart attack generally occurs.
  7. Stress - there are many research studies linking stress to heart disease

What does it mean to be heart healthy?

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Reduce Your Heart Disease Risks
There's lot's you can do to reduce your risks / prevent heart disease from developing.


Start with eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and make time for increasing your activity.  Just by making these 2 lifestyle modifications (diet and activity) you will lower your blood pressure, cholesterol,  help you to lose weight and lower your diabetes risks.

In fact, in 1976 Dr. Dean Ornish a very famous cardiologist wrote this book Reversing Heart Disease. In this book he documents how heart disease was totally reversed in 2 years (no need of open heart surgery) with diet and exercise. Today Dr. Ornish has a beautiful website with all his best advice. To read more click here

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. continued his work and published a 20 year study
proving with changes in diet and nutrition heart disease can be cured. To read more click here

The Cooper Institute is known as the "founder of aerobics" has many studies on heart disease predictors and inactivity. If you would like to know more this is a good study click here


There are many reasons to stop smoking however the best one is because you decide smoking does not add value to your life.The average smoker makes 7 attempts to stop before they do. If you need help a good resource is
1-800-QuitNow. They offer free coaching, workbooks and sometime medications depending on what state you live in. So go ahead and give them a call.
Healthy Cooking Tip
Not sure where to start? How about in the kitchen?  Check out this cooking demonstration for some tips.

Heart Healthy Cooking with Maria Hines

Heart Healthy Cooking with Maria Hines

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