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At what age should people with family history of heart ailments get screened? What parameters should they get checked?

World Heart Day 2022: Having a family history of heart disease means you have about a 40 per cent higher chance of suffering from the ailment

heart healthAnother aspect that you should probably keep an eye out for is any signs and symptoms of heart disease. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

If you have a family history of heart disease — especially if it’s a first-degree relative, like your parent, sibling, or child who has had premature heart disease (before the age of 55 in men and 65 in women) — then you’re more likely to get heart disease, too.

In fact, having a family history of heart disease means you have about a 40 per cent higher chance of suffering from the ailment. This means you should get screened for any factors that may indicate a higher risk of heart disease and visit your doctor to get screened for markers of heart disease. Your doctor can then, based on your results, help craft a plan to help bring your risk down.

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But how early should you get screened?

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As per the American College of Paediatrics, a person with a family history of heart disease should get screened as early as 13 years of age, because their risk of suffering from heart disease is two to three times greater.

What parameters should you get checked?

Some of the most important ones include:

*An assessment of your lifestyle to check for obesity, lack of exercise, smoking or using any kind of tobacco, and drinking alcohol.
*Check for high blood pressure.
*Get your blood sugar levels checked, and get tested for diabetes.
*Have your lipid profile and cholesterol levels checked.

Another aspect that you should probably keep an eye out for is any signs and symptoms of heart disease. These include chest pain, especially on exertion and breathlessness. While there are several other symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor for further evaluation.

There are ways to lower that risk. You could:

Lose weight: If you’re overweight or obese, it will benefit your heart to lose some weight and lower your risk of suffering from heart disease.

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Eat healthy: Include more fruits and veggies, nuts and some kinds of fish and poultry into your diet and go easy on fatty foods, red meat, dairy products, processed meat and sugary treats.

All you need to do is be aware of the risk factors and take appropriate actions to help prevent its onset. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Get enough exercise: Performing at least 30 to 40 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, five days a week, is essential for a healthy heart. Today, an excellent way to gauge if you’re getting enough exercise is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day.

Lower your cholesterol levels: Getting your cholesterol levels checked is the first step. The next one is to work on lowering them if they are high.

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Control your blood sugar levels: Diabetes, especially uncontrolled high blood sugar levels can raise your risk of suffering from heart disease. So, get those numbers under control to keep your heart healthy.

Control your blood pressure: Another factor that affects the proper functioning of your heart is high blood pressure. When uncontrolled, high blood pressure increases the force of blood passing through your arteries and can damage their walls, which can affect your heart.

Keep stress at bay: Stress, especially psycho-social stress, can impact your heart and its functioning. Therefore, doing things that help you bust stress can go a long way in keeping your heart healthy.

Finally, having a family history of heart disease does not mean you will suffer from the same condition. All you need to do is be aware of the risk factors and take appropriate actions to help prevent its onset.

(The author is a senior interventional cardiologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi)

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First published on: 29-09-2022 at 01:20:48 pm
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