Heart Threats You’re Ignoring: These underrated factors may play a surprising role in your heart health
High Blood Pressure
More than 35 million Americans have uncontrolled high blood pressure-and about 40 percent have no idea, according to a recent CDC report. The condition is serious: For every 20 points above a systolic blood pressure of 115 and every ten points above a diastolic reading of 75, the odds of dying from heart disease or stroke double. If you haven’t had a blood pressure reading recently, get tested at your next appointment. And if you know you have high blood pressure, take your medication as prescribed and monitor your BP at home if your doctor advises it.
Women who go through the change before the age 46 have double the risk of heart disease and stroke of those who experience it later, Johns Hopkins researchers recently found. Therefore, women who go through menopause early should be extra vigilant about other heart risk factors, like weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Smoking, a known heart threat, is a double whammy, since smokers enter menopause about two years earlier on average.
Your Partner’s Mental Health
Depression is common among heart attack survivors, but a recent study shows that it also affects their partners: Spouses of heart attack survivors were 17 percent more likely to require a prescription for antidepressants in the year after the event than before. Authors say spouses may be reluctant to take care of themselves while focusing on a partners recovery, but it’s essential for them to seek care if they suspect depression symptoms, which are themselves a risk factor for heart problems.
Edited by Lauren Gelman
Printed in Readers Digest, January 2013 Edition