If you’re male and you’re worried about heart attacks, try this quiz.
1. Are you a non-smoker?
If not, be warned! Cigarette smoke contains over 850 nasty things many of which cause serious damage to your heart. Result? A pack of cigarettes gives you twice the risk of a heart attack and five times the risk of a stroke.
2. Do you take regular exercise?
If not, be warned! A man who leads a sedentary lifestyle has twice the risk of a heart attack.
3. Do you limit your consumption of very-high-fat food?
[Like roast lamb, minced beef, rashers, sausages, burgers, takeaways, fried food, pastries, mayonnaise, cream-cakes, crisps and chocolate] If not, be warned! This type of food contains saturated fat which is a major culprit in heart disease.
4. Do you eat 3/4 daily helpings of fruit & 3/4 helpings of veg?
If not, you should! Why? Because these foods offer significant protection against heart disease. If you smoke, you should eat even more: I suggest 5 helpings of each. Sadly, both Ireland and the UK eat comparatively little fruit and vegetables and have a huge number of heart deaths.
5. Do you eat regular helpings of oily fish, like mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon?
If not, you should! Why? Because oily fish contains a unique type of fat that according to experts actually reduces the risk of heart disease.
6. Do you manage to avoid regular stress?
If not, be warned! Your chances of a heart attack can double in the 60 minutes following a stressful event.
7. Do you watch your weight?
If not, be warned! Being 28 pounds (2 stone) overweight doubles your risk of heart disease. It also doubles the risk of strokes, and quadruples the risk of diabetes. To give you a rough idea of when you’re at risk, an ‘average’ six foot tall man is 28 pounds (2 stone) overweight at about 217 pounds (15 stone). A man of 5 feet 10 inches, at about 208 pounds (14 stone 12 pounds).
8. Do you avoid heavy-drinking sessions?
If not, you should! Why? Because alcohol is a poison which robs your body of several important vitamins and minerals which protect your heart. One glass of wine or a pint of beer a day may be beneficial, but more is risky and indulging in heavy-drinking sessions is asking for trouble.
9. Do you eat a balanced diet?
If not, you should. Why? Because there are about 45 nutrients which help to keep us healthy and they all work together. A balanced diet has lots of fruit, vegetables, bread, potatoes, cereal, fish, chicken and beans, plus a modest selection of low-fat dairy products and a small amount of lean red meat. No more than 100g (4oz), twice a week.
Ideally, you answered Yes to all of these questions. And if not to all, then to seven of them at least, especially if you are over 30 years of age. If you didn’t, I strongly recommend a visit to your local health clinic for a cholesterol test. It’s a simple, quick procedure and the nurse will be able to give you all the necessary advice.
Finally, ask your wife to answer this quiz, as well. Although her risk of heart disease is much lower before the menopause, afterwards it’s a different story. In fact, heart disease is the most common cause of death for woman over 50.