Watch without crying | Leah answers mom's questions
5 Heart Health Questions for Mom on Mother's Day
1. Do you know your numbers?
Knowledge is key. Knowing if you are at risk is the first step in preventing heart disease. If you don't know these numbers, make sure you see your doctor and get them checked.
Blood pressure- A normal blood pressure reading is under 140/90. The top number is the 'systolic blood pressure.' The bottom number is the 'diastolic blood pressure.' Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure can be high or just one or other other. Both numbers are important to keep low.
Cholesterol - Total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL. As cardiologists, we also pay close attention to the types of cholesterol. In particular, it's important to keep LDL ('bad cholesterol') low. How low depends on whether you have other risk factors for heart disease. LDL should be at least under 160 mg/dL for healthy individuals and under 100 mg/dL for those with known heart disease or diabetes.
Body weight- There is no perfect body weight for everyone. Though it's not a perfect measure, your body mass index (BMI) can give you a sense of whether you are in the right ballpark. The BMI is a calculation based on height and weight. BMI less than 25 is considered normal. Having a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.
Sugar - High blood sugar levels can indicate diabetes. Normal fasting sugar levels should be less than 126 mg/dL. A random (non-fasting) level is normal if under 200 mg/dL
2. Do you have or anyone in our family have a history of heart disease?
Family history of heart disease is a risk factor for developing heart disease oneself. Ask you mom if she or any other close relatives in the family have had heart disease and at what age. Early onset of heart disease is a particularly strong risk factor. It is not a risk factor you can change, but knowing you are at increased risk might be just enough motivation to fix the things you can.
3. Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack?
You would be surprised how many women are unaware of the symptoms of a heart attack. Lack of recognition keeps many women from seeking medical attention or getting to the hospital quickly enough. The major symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort. I like the word 'discomfort' because everyone describes this differently. It can be pain, pressure, tightness, squeezing, or even a burning sensation.
- Arm discomfort
- Jaw discomfort
- Shortness of breath
It's also important to remember that while chest discomfort is still the most common presenting symptom, women are more likely than men to have some of the more 'atypical' symptoms when they have a heart attack. Be aware.
4. What would you do if you had any of the symptoms of a heart attack?
Many people think they can just get in their car and drive to the hospital. Don't. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Emergency personnel can start appropriate treatments right away. They can also alert the hospital right away so that they can assemble the right team of doctors to take care of you as soon as you reach.
While you wait, take an aspirin.
5. What are your wishes?
This is admittedly a hard conversation to start. But it's so important. We often talk about the way we want to live, but rarely talk about the way we want to die. Some people prefer to die at home. Some people would not want to be kept on life-sustaining treatments or machines. As a cardiologist, I have had many of these conversations at the bedside of an ailing family member. Unfortunately, that's not the time or the place. Communicate your wishes to your loved ones now. It may be hard, but it's worth it to start the conversation with your mom today.
Celebrate mother's day by celebrating health.
Video: IF YOU ANSWER NO TO MORE THAN 2 QUESTIONS, YOUR HEART IS AT RISK
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