Last updated: Dec 17, 2010
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You know: to pump your mom for your familys health history.
You know: to stay on top of your numbers.
You know: the big risk factors for heart disease, like obesity, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Every random ping isnt cause for alarm. Lisa J. Young, MD, a cardiologist at the Sutherland Cardiology Clinic in Memphis, tells you what to watch out for.
Chest pain that moves from one spot to another, or a knife-like pain you can pinpoint.
Pain thats lasted more than an hour, without sweatiness or shortness of breath, especially if youre able to walk around.
Palpitations without any other symptoms.
Pressure or tightnesslike an elephant on your chest.
An abrupt drop in energy or in your ability to exercise.
Pain in your neck, jaw, back, arm, or shoulder that comes on when you exercise.
Light-headedness, sweating, shortness of breath, and/or nausea. When in doubt, call your doctor or 911.
Who hasnt used the famed heart-healthy power of dark chocolate as an excuse to nosh? Boost the benefits of your sweet treat by pairing it with blueberries. While berries of all kinds are often touted for their cancer-fighting might, the antioxidant-rich fruit may also help protect your ticker. You can get your fix even when blueberries are out of season with Pure Dark Chocolate Covered Blueberries ($14; puredark.com).
Women who have been to the dentist in the past two years reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems by at least one-third, a recent study suggests.
Friend loveHaving good pals is associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Pet lovePet owners live longer after a heart attack than those who dont have little critters to tend to.
Romantic loveWomen who had hugs from their sweeties had lower blood pressure in one study; on the other hand, people in marriages with a lot of strife may be at a higher risk for heart disease. And losing a spouse (and other sudden emotional blows) can even trigger what feels like (but isnt really) a heart attackits known as "broken heart" syndrome.