History Doesn’t Have to Repeat Itself

Even if you have a family history of heart disease, there are many lifestyle-related factors you can control to reduce your chance of heart attack or stroke.

“Millions of Americans have a family history of heart disease, but that history does not have to be destiny,” said Ricardo Gutierrez, M.D., medical director for the cardiac service line at CHI St. Joseph Health. “Anyone can make changes to bring their individual risk down.”

Those include stopping smoking, limiting alcohol use, losing excess weight, cutting back on processed foods and getting regular exercise. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.

All these strategies can help manage or reverse high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes—three more risk factors for heart disease.

A primary care physician can help you make a plan to protect your heart, Dr. Gutierrez said. That begins with a personalized risk assessment using a combination of tools, from blood tests to electrocardiograms and diagnostic imaging.

“People with a family history should act now to give themselves the best chance of preventing a heart attack or stroke later,” he said.

We offer same-day and next-day appointments. If you need a primary care provider to help you start doing everything you can to prevent heart disease, use our Find a Doctor tool at CHIStJoseph.org or call 979-774-2121.