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Keeping your heart healthy: how to prevent heart disease

Posted at 6:08 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-10 18:08:04-04

The news of 60-year-old Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz's death was a surprise to many who knew him. His chief of staff says he was very conscious about what he ate and exercised often. He even promoted good eating habits to his staff. He did everything "by the book." 

A MedStar doctor says unfortunately, they see relatively young people come into the ER everyday with symptoms of a heart attack. While some things, like family history, aren't avoidable, there are some change you can make to prevent it. 

"If you've never had any problems, those are the people who tend who have the most severe heart attacks and that can result in sudden death," Dr. Momina Mastoor said. 

Mastoor is a cardiologist at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. She says to try and prevent a cardiac event, firs you need to know your risk factors. This that you can change would be high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. 

"I also add stress to that category because we are all working very long hours and spend a lot of time at work and those things are stressful, so we never really take a step back and focus on our own health," Mastoor said. 

She says risk factors that you can't change include gender and genetics. 

"Men over the age of 55 have a much higher risk of having a heart attack," Mastoor said. 

She also says women who hit menopause are also more at risk. While you can't change your family history, she says you should ask about premature heart disease and cardiac arrest. 

Once you know your risks, she says focus on prevention. 

"It's not good to smoke period but definitely if you have a bad family history," Mastoor said. "Controlling your weight, getting regular exercise, controlling your blood pressure, making sure that you don't become diabetic and then knowing your numbers."

Those numbers are dependent on age and lifestyle but she says in general, blood pressure should be 120 over 80, BMI, a height and weight assessment, should be below 25 and cholesterol should be less than 200.

It's also important to eat right: more greens, fruits and fish, less red meat. She says caffeine in combination with other factors can be dangerous too.

"If you have a lot of coffee, there's a lot of stress ,then you're also taking a decongestant because your allergies have flared up, certain decongestants, and then you are also having Red Bull, all those things put together are not good," Mastoor said.