Answer "true" or "false" to the
following 14 questions to test your knowledge of heart disease and its
1. The risk factors
for heart disease that you
can do something about are:
high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, obesity,
and physical inactivity.
High blood pressure, smoking, and high blood cholesterol are the
three most important risk factors for heart disease. On the
average, each one doubles your chance of developing heart
disease. So, a person who has all three of the risk factors is 8
times more likely to develop heart disease than someone who has
none. Obesity increases the likelihood of developing high blood
cholesterol and high blood pressure, which increase your risk of
heart disease. Physical inactivity increases your risk of heart
attack. Regular exercise and good nutrition are essential to
reducing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and
overweight. People who exercise are also more likely to cut down
or stop smoking.
2. A stroke is often the first
symptom of high blood pressure, and a heart attack is often the
first symptom of high blood cholesterol.
A person with high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol may
feel fine and look great; there are often no signs that anything
is wrong until a stroke or heart attack occurs. To find out if
you have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, you
should be tested by a doctor, nurse, or other health
A blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 is generally
considered to be high.
True. However, blood
pressures that fall below 140/90 can sometimes be a problem. If
the diastolic pressure, the second or lower number, is between
85-89, a person is at an increased risk for heart disease or
stroke and should have his/her blood pressure checked at least
once a year by a health professional. The higher your blood
pressure, the greater your risk of developing heart disease or
stroke. Controlling high blood pressure reduces your risk
High blood pressure affects the
same number of blacks as it does whites.
High blood pressure is more common in blacks than whites. It
affects 29 out of every 100 black adults compared to 26 out of
every 100 white adults. Also, with aging, high blood pressure is
generally more severe among blacks then among whites, and
therefore causes more strokes, heart disease, and kidney
The best ways to treat and control high blood pressure are to
control your weight, exercise, eat less salt (sodium), restrict
your intake of alcohol, and take your high blood pressure
medicine, if prescribed by your doctor.
Recent studies show that lifestyle changes can help keep blood
pressure levels normal even into advanced age and are important
in treating and preventing high blood pressure. Limit high-salt
foods which include many snack foods, such as potato chips,
salted pretzels, and salted crackers; processed foods, such as
canned soups; and condiments, such as ketchup and soy sauce.
Also, it is extremely important to take blood
pressure medication, if prescribed by your doctor, to make sure
your blood pressure stays under control.
6. A blood cholesterol of 240 is
desirable for adults.
A total blood cholesterol
of under 200 is desirable and usually puts you
at a lower risk for heart disease. A blood cholesterol
level of 240 mg/dL or above is high and
increases your risk of heart disease.
If your cholesterol level is
high, your doctor will want to check your levels of LDL-cholesterol
("bad" cholesterol) and HDL- cholesterol ("good" cholesterol). A
HIGH level of LDL-cholesterol increases your risk for heart
disease, as does a LOW level of HDL-cholesterol. A cholesterol
level of 200-239 is considered borderline-high
and usually increases your risk for heart disease. If your
cholesterol is borderline-high, you should speak to your doctor
to see if additional cholesterol tests are needed. All adults 20
years of age or older should have their blood cholesterol level
checked at least once every 5 years
The most effective dietary way to lower the level of your blood
cholesterol is to eat foods low in cholesterol
Reducing the amount of
cholesterol in your diet is important; however, eating foods
low in saturated fat is the most effective
dietary way to lower blood cholesterol levels, along with eating
less total fat and cholesterol. Choose low-saturated fat foods,
such as grains, fruits, and vegetables; low-fat or skim milk and
milk products; lean cuts of meat; fish; and chicken. Trim fat
from meat before cooking; bake or broil meat rather than fry;
use less fat and oil; and take the skin off chicken and turkey.
Reducing overweight will also help lower your level of LDL-cholesterol
as well as increase your level of HDL- cholesterol.
8. Lowering blood cholesterol levels
can help people who have already had a heart attack.
People who have had one
heart attack are at much higher risk for a second attack.
Reducing blood cholesterol levels can greatly slow down (and, in
some people, even reverse) the buildup of cholesterol and fat in
the walls of the arteries and significantly reduce the chances
of a second heart attack.
Only children from families at high risk of heart disease need
to have their blood cholesterol levels checked.
Children from "high risk"
families, in which a parent has high blood cholesterol (240 or
above) or in which a parent or grandparent has had heart disease
at an early age (at 55 years of age or younger), should have
their cholesterol levels tested. If a child from such a family
has a cholesterol level that is high, it should be lowered under
medical supervision, primarily with diet, to reduce the risk of
developing heart disease as an adult. For most children, who are
not from high-risk families, the best way to reduce the risk of
adult heart disease is to follow a low-saturated fat, low
cholesterol eating pattern. All children over the age of 2 years
and all adults should adopt a heart-healthy eating pattern as a
principal way of reducing coronary heart disease.
10. Smoking is a major risk factor
for four of the five leading causes of death including heart
attack, stroke, cancer, and lung diseases such as emphysema and
Heavy smokers are 2 to 4 times more
likely to have a heart attack than nonsmokers, and the heart
attack death rate among all smokers is 70 percent greater than
that of nonsmokers. Older male smokers are also nearly twice as
likely to die from stroke than older men who do not smoke, and
these odds are nearly as high for older female smokers. Further,
the risk of dying from lung cancer is 22 times higher for male
smokers than male nonsmokers and 12 times higher for female
smokers than female nonsmokers. Finally, 80 percent of all
deaths from emphysema and bronchitis are directly due to
11. If you have had a heart
attack, quitting smoking can help reduce your chances of having
a second attack.
One year after quitting, ex-smokers
cut their extra risk for heart attack by about half or more, and
eventually the risk will return to normal in healthy ex-smokers.
Even if you have already had a heart attack, you can reduce your
chances of a second attack if you quit smoking. Ex-smokers can
also reduce their risk of stroke and cancer, improve blood flow
and lung function, and help stop diseases like emphysema and
bronchitis from getting worse.
12. Someone who has smoked for 30 to
40 years probably will not be able to quit smoking.
Older smokers are more
likely to succeed at quitting smoking than younger smokers.
Quitting helps relieve smoking-related symptoms like shortness
of breath, coughing, and chest pain. Many quit to avoid further
health problems and take control of their lives.
The best way to lose weight is to increase physical activity and
eat fewer calories.
Weight control is a question of
balance. You get calories from the foods you eat. You burn off
calories by exercising. Cutting down on calories, especially
calories from fat, is key to losing weight. Combining this with
a regular physical activity, like walking, cycling, jogging, or
swimming, not only can help in losing weight but also in
maintaining weight loss. A steady weight loss of 1/2 to 1 pound
a week is safe for most adults, and the weight is more likely to
stay off over the long run. Losing weight, if you are
overweight, may also reduce your blood pressure, lower your LDL-cholesterol,
and raise your HDL-cholesterol. Being physically active and
eating fewer calories will also help you control your weight if
you quit smoking.
Heart disease is the leading
killer of men and women in the United
Coronary heart disease is the #1
killer in the United States. Approximately 489,000 Americans
died of coronary heart disease in 1990, and approximately half
of the deaths were women.
Click here to learn more about
coronary heart disease.