What is Heart Health Prevention?
"The whole paradigm is shifting away from targeting the person at the edge of the cliff toward identifying him well before he reaches that edge," says Jonathan L. Halperin, MD, Professor of Cardiology and Director of Clinical Cardiology Services at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "We've moved from being able to diagnose disease when it is present to identifying and overcoming risk before disease develops."
At Mount Sinai Heart, we have found that the best way to treat heart disease is to prevent cardiovascular episodes from happening in the first place. To do that, we have to start with eliminating risk factors. Most people with heart disease have had prior exposure to at least one major risk factor. The good news is that many factors can be managed, even reversed, with simple lifestyle changes. Risk factors for heart disease include but are not limited to:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the "bad" kind)
- Low high- low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the "good" kind)
- Family history
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables
All of these factors are relevant and you do not need to have all risk factors in order to be at a high risk for heart disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about heart disease prevention.
A: A "family history" means that one of your first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child) has coronary artery disease, or has had a heart attack or stroke, especially when young. If you have a family history of heart problems, it may mean that you may have inherited a greater risk than a person without such a history.
A: The total cholesterol number takes into account your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), and triglycerides (another fat in your bloodstream). The total number may be high because your good cholesterol is high – and that’s nothing to worry about. You should know all your numbers, not just the total cholesterol.
A: No. Many patients find that making lifestyle changes can bring their blood pressure or cholesterol to goal. These changes can include eating a healthier diet, exercising, and losing weight. Others can make lifestyle changes that lower the dosage of medication they need. One of our cardiovascular specialists can work with you to develop a good plan that incorporates both lifestyle and medications, if needed.