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My doctor told me that my blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. Am I still at risk for a heart attack?
You may still be at risk...While these are two very important risk factors there are others that are important, for example being overweight, smoking, having diabetes, and not exercising.

What is meant by having a "family history?"
A "family history" means that one of your first-degree relatives (a parent, sibling, or child) has coronary artery disease, has had a heart attack, or stroke, especially when that family member was young. Family history is an important risk factor as it may mean that you may have inherited a greater risk than a person without such a history.

My "total cholesterol" number has always been good. Need I know more?
The total cholesterol number takes into account your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol), and Triglycerides (also a fat in your bloodstream). The total number may be high because your good cholesterol is high. You should know all your numbers, not just the total.

Will I always feel chest pain if there is a blockage in my coronary arteries?
No, in fact many people have no symptoms yet go on to have a heart attack. Others may experience other symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, and indigestion-type feeling. If you have several risk factors you have a greater likelihood of having a heart attack and should be evaluated.

Do I always need medication if my blood pressure or cholesterol is high?
No, in fact many patients can make lifestyle changes that will bring their blood pressure or cholesterol to goal. This can include eating a healthier diet, exercising, and loosing weight. Some patients will still need medication but lifestyle modifications can help to reduce the dose that you will need. A cardiovascular specialist can work with you to develop a good plan that incorporates both lifestyle and medications, if needed.

How can I stay healthy while on vacation?
Vacation is time for family, friends and fun-whether it is a cruise, vacation to far-away lands, or day trips. People who have heart disease or who have risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure can get away-and still make sure they are taking care of their health.

Dr. Merle Myerson, a cardiologist and director of the St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospitals Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program counsels her patients on the do's and don'ts of travel. With a little extra planning you can help to ensure that you have a safe-and healthy trip. Read Dr. Myerson's advice on the do's and dont's of travel.

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