Heart Health Tips from a John C. Lincoln Cardiologist

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American men and women.

As part of American Heart Health month, John C. Lincoln hosted a twitter chat on Feb. 15.

Gary S. Kauffman, MD, FACC, a board-certified cardiologist with North Phoenix Heart Center, led the discussion on heart health. Here are the most important heart health tips he shared:

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  • Keep your cholesterol down by diet and exercise. Sometimes medications also can decrease your risk of heart disease.
  • Frequently prescription medications are required for patients to lower cholesterol sufficiently to decreased cardiovascular risks. Statins are usually the first line. They are safe and effective.
  • Good heart health foods are fruits, vegetables, grilled chicken and fish. Avoid fried foods, red meat, fast food restaurants.
  • Woman's risk factors are really the same as men's. Smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and family history of premature coronary artery disease are considered the major risk factors. Most importantly for women, many are under diagnosed or misdiagnosed as signs and symptoms of heart disease are often vague.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol. Higher is better. Greater than 45 at least. Even though it is difficult to raise HDL, exercise and quitting smoking helps. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is bad cholesterol. Lower is better. Less than 100 or lower. You can lower LDL by cutting dairy products, red meat, pork products and eating lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish instead.
  • Normal BP is 130/80. If your blood pressure is consistently greater than 140/90 see your doctor. Hypertension, high blood pressure is the "silent killer." Most patients have no symptoms. All adults should have their blood pressure checked.
  • Common signs of a heart attack include chest pain radiating to the left arm, jaw, or neck, but not everyone is the same. If you have unexplained chest discomfort, it does not have to be pain, see your doctor.

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