Your daily habits can make or break your game
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s sudden death from a heart attack on July 13 gave baseball fans pause to reflect on their own potential for a heart attack.
“We are always reminded when somebody famous dies, but the day that they died was not the day that they developed heart disease,” says Marc Gillinov, MD, a heart surgeon at Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute. “Heart attacks happen, and dying suddenly is unfortunately pretty common, but those two things don’t have to happen.”
By age 40, a high percentage of Americans have some form of heart disease, says Dr. Gillinov, who holds the Judith Dion Pyle Endowed Chair in Heart Valve Research.
The good news, he says, is that heart disease can be prevented by adopting heart-healthy habits like not smoking, eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats and simple sugars, and exercising at least 30 minutes each day.
“It’s up to you, it’s up to me, it’s up to everyone,” Dr. Gillinov says. “I talk to plenty of people who say, ‘I am doing everything I can for my heart. I get my prescriptions filled every month, and I take my pills, so I’m taking care of my heart.’ That’s taking care of your prescriptions, which is important, but it’s not taking care of the whole picture. Just taking a pill every night is not going to do it; it’s what you do during the whole day until you get to that pill at night.”
Dr. Gillinov says exercise is safe for most people, but if you have heart disease, chest pain or shortness of breath, you should check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
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