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Heart Month Tip #1: Reduce your risks

February 1, 2015

From Dr. Kristin Linzmeyer, Cardiologist

There are several risk factors for heart disease and stroke; the more you have, the greater the danger you face. But the reverse is also true: Each factor you reduce or eliminate can greatly reduce your risk.

Staying active and exercising regularly can significantly lower your risk for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke, as well as other age-related problems such as osteoporosis, falls, dementia, and diabetes. It’s one of the most important—if not the most important—way to prevent these serious conditions.

Risk factors you can control

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL “bad” cholesterol and/or low HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • A diet high in sugar, salt, or saturated fat
  • Chronic stress
  • Metabolic syndrome (having three or more of the above risk factors combined significantly increases your risk for heart attack and death.)
Risk factors you can’t control
  • Aging
  • Family history of premature heart disease or stroke
  • Race: Certain ethnicities have a higher incidence of heart disease such as Asian, Native American, and African American
  • Prior radiation treatments for cancer to your chest
  • History of HIV infection
Risk factors that particularly affect women
  • Migraines with aura (visual disturbances such as flashing dots or blind spots)
  • Birth control pills
  • History of preeclampsia/eclampsia
  • Hypertension or previous pregnancy-related hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases and clotting disorders
Source: American Heart Association, American Stroke Association


To learn more about women, heart disease, and stroke, join Dr. Linzmeyer for a free seminar on February 2 at 6 p.m., at St. Luke’s Meridian, 520 S. Eagle Road, in the Lemhi/Blackfoot/Paiute Rooms. Registration is recommended.