“These risk factors lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries, which grows in size and lead to stoppage of arteries. Well known risk factors for causing heart attack or stroke include family history of stroke and heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity. Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are also at a much higher risk of developing stroke and heart disease, and need to take extra precautions to prevent these conditions.”

Dr. Khan also described the warning signs to look for and what to do if they are observed.

“If a person is complaining of chest pain or increasing shortness of breath which are some of the more common signs of a heart attack or having signs suggestive of stroke such as difficulty in speech or complete or partial loss of movement in any part of the body, such patients should immediately call 911. In the case of possible heart attack, it is advised to take an aspirin immediately. In the event of stroke which can either be due to a clot like in a heart attack or due to a bleed, it is advisable to call 911 immediately. The acute treatment of stroke and heart attack is dependent on quick timing,” says Dr. Waqar Khan.

Finally, the cardiologist explained how to manage health problems to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

“Some of the risk factors described above can be altered by each individual but there are some that cannot be changed such as family history. Maintaining good control of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, regular exercise, watching your diet and of course stopping smoking will certainly prevent your chances of a heart attack. I must also add that individuals who have two or more than two risk factors described above, must have baseline testing performed by their primary care physician,” says Dr. Waqar Khan.

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