In our Ask the Doctor segment, Dr. Chris Rowan explains the lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease. Dr. Rowan is a cardiologist with Renown Institute for Heart and Vascular Health. He says first and foremost, it is important to exercise and eat healthfully. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, grains, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like fresh tuna. Cut down on salt, too. Nutritionists add it is important to avoid trans fats and food with "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" ingredients.

Also, Dr. Rowan advises patients to monitor their blood pressure. If it's too high, your risk of a heart attack and heart disease goes up. Stress management can help control your blood pressure. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to lower your levels. Also, he says, quit smoking.

Along with knowing your blood pressure, Dr. Rowan also encourages patients to know and understand their cholesterol numbers. When blood flows through your blood vessels, it can drop traces of cholesterol, fat, and calcium, creating a buildup of plaque in your arteries; too much of that plaque can increase your risk of heart attack.

Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Dr. Rowan tells patients to pay attention to their body and if you are concerned, it is never a bad idea to see your general physician. Call 911 if you feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in your chest. Other symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach as well as a shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Some people experience a cold sweat, nausea or dizziness ahead of a heart attack, too. Dr. Rowan says every patient is different.

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