Heart disease is still Canadas number one killer. What doctors regret is that most heart attacks could have been prevented by examining the heart disease risk factors. But people still are not getting the message.
To figure out if you yourself have a high chance of having a heart attack, we doctors ask a bunch of questions.
In our own minds, we say, I wonder if this person is en route to eventually having a heart attack? Do they use aspirin for heart attack prevention? Will this patient who is sitting in front of me be one of the ones to clog his blood vessels and damage his heart or have a stroke?
The questions that follow are the questions that we ourselves ask. You should use this list of questions yourself. The more YES answers, the higher your chance of having a heart problem, stroke, kidney damage, or sudden death.
What is important about lists like this is that it helps you to rate yourself; it helps you to understand the kind of questions that we doctors use to find the people who are in danger.
Did your relatives parents, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts have heart disease or a heart attack?
Do you smoke?
Have you smoked 10 cigarettes/day for 10 years or more?
Are you overweight?
Are you obese?
Is your waist measurement more than 35 inches/89 cm (for women) or 40 inches/102 cm (for men)?
Do you exercise infrequently?
Do you have arthritis that limits your mobility?
Are you under too much ongoing stress?
Do you argue and get angry very often?
Do you have a poor diet, full of cholesterol, salt, and sugar?
Do you eat few fruits and vegetables?
Do you drink too much alcohol (3 or more drinks a day)?
Do you have high blood pressure, hypertension?
Do you have poorly controlled high blood pressure, well above 130/80?
Do you have high cholesterol?
Do you have diabetes?
Do you have poorly controlled diabetes with high sugars all the time?
Did your relativesparents, brothers and sisters, uncles and auntshave diabetes?
Do you have kidney disease because of high blood pressure or diabetes?
Do you have Peripheral Artery Disease, making your legs ache when you walk and feel cold at rest?
Are you depressed, sad too much?
Do you take little comfort in religious or spiritual beliefs?
Do you get chest pain or shortness of breath with moderate activity?
Do you have erectile dysfunction, problems with sexual performance?
Have you already had a heart attack before?
Are you from a high risk ethnocultural groupblack/African/Caribbean, Chinese, South Asian, or Aboriginal?
As you answer YES to more and more of these questions, you have a higher and higher chance of having a heart problem.
The message to you is to see a physician, and learn what you can do about protecting yourself.
The other special point is that you dont need too many YES answers to start having more and more risk. For example, being male is one risk factor. Being over the age of 35 is another risk factor. Being overweight or under too much stress are also other risk factors. So the entire list can collect quickly and apply to huge numbers of people.
We doctors believe that if you answer YES to 3 or 4 or more questions, you need help. You should begin the process of understanding your personal risk, your personal chance, of having a heart attack and then do what you can TO PREVENT CANADAS NUMBER ONE KILLER.
Act before its too latebeyond the hype and scare-tactics, this really is an important and essential message that too few people are benefiting from.
Learn your risks.
Take appropriate action. This will include getting yourself fully tested, and will likely include taking particular medications to protect yourself.
TAKE THIS MESSAGE TO HEART.
Dr. Shafiq Qaadri is a Toronto family physician and Continuing Medical Education lecturer. www.doctorQ.ca