February 8, 2010, ST. LOUIS – In many cases, heart disease is preventable. Doctors feel this way because there are modifiable risk factors people can do in their daily lives to reduce their risk.
“The majority of people who develop heart disease can do a lot to prevent that from happening,” says Andy Kates, MD, Washington University cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
While there are risk factors no one can do anything about (age, sex, race and family history), but there are five that people can control:
-High blood pressure
Dr. Kates says smoking and physical activity are the two easiest to control.
“Risk of cardiovascular disease goes down by 50% after one year of a person quitting smoking,” he says. “And for those patients who maintain an active lifestyle, they can reduce their risk by about 30% by working out five days a week for 30 minutes a day.”
While people are at risk throughout their lifetime, doctors say risk increases at a certain age – for men when they reach age 45 and for women at 55.
“We like to stress that knowledge is power,” says Dr. Kates. “Knowing what your risk is and what you can do about that risk is very important.”
Kates will discuss these topics at “Home is Where the Heart Is,” Thursday, February 25 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the West County YMCA (16464 Burkhardt Place). For more information or to register, call 866-TOP-DOCS (867-3627).
Also, to check out your own risk of heart disease, visit www.yourdiseaserisk.wustl.edu.