The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is probably occupying most of your attention when it comes to health concerns, but it’s important to remember that other health conditions haven’t taken a break. Take a heart disease, for example. It is one of the most preventable conditions out there, yet it claims more than 850,000 lives every year in the United States alone. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person dies of a heart attack every 40 seconds.
And while many people think that heart attacks occur when the heart stops beating—an entirely different event known as sudden cardiac arrest—they are actually caused by a blockage in the arteries created by a build-up of plaque, says Alexandra Lajoie, MD, a non-invasive cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
The good news is that understanding your family history and making healthy lifestyle choices can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack. Here are some important steps you can take today so you don’t miss a beat.
Know your family history.
If you have a family member who has had a heart attack, you are at a greater risk of having one yourself. That’s why it’s so important to share this information with your doctor so they can recommend some lifestyle changes and screenings that can help you get ahead of any potential problems.
“Everyone should have basic cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, but if you have a family history, your doctor might recommend a thorough cardiac evaluation,” Lajoie says.