"I’m worried and it’s keeping me awake at night. Am I too old to improve my health?" Sierra asked, a worried tone in her voice.
Sierra’s father had just returned home after several weeks in the hospital. He had suffered a major heart attack as well as complications. "Family history" and "genetic predisposition," expressions used by the doctor, were keeping Sierra awake at night.
Genetics cannot be altered but the wake-up call in the form of a family member’s health problem can be a blessing in disguise. This can be the time to explore major risk factors than can be modified, treated, or controlled by lifestyle changes or medications.
The American Heart Association has several assessment tests that you can take to evaluate your risk factors. Click on Conditions at the top of the page. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the Heart Attack Risk Assessment, High Blood Pressure Health Risk Calculator, and My Diabetes Health Assessment.
Risk factors that can be affected by changing your lifestyle or taking medication include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, and smoking.
A heart-healthy diet is a boon to anyone regardless of his or her family health background. Your heart will thank you for a few simple changes in your food choices. Vegetables supply vitamins and minerals yet contain no cholesterol. Adding vegetables to your next meal will add nutrients as well as more flavor to your meal. Reduce the fat in your diet with a switch to low-fat dairy products. Using whole grain bread when you make a sandwich will add more fiber to your diet. Always consult with a health care professional before making changes to your diet especially if you are taking medication or have other health issues.
Worry is based on the fear of the unknown. Take the fear out of your health and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose numbers can give you a concrete base to build your good health on, regardless of your age.