Are you at risk for heart disease quiz

By on July 29, 2011
Your heart powers your entire body. Yet you probably won’t give it much thought—until something throws a monkey wrench into its workings. This is unfortunate because there are things you can do right now to ensure your heart keeps going strong for a long time. Take our quiz and see if you’re doing all you can to protect your heart.

You have:
A. High blood pressure
B. Diabetes
C. High cholesterol

Your total cholesterol readings are:
A. Good, less than 200 mg/DL
B. Not so good, 240 mg/DL or higher
C. Who knows?
You light up:
A. Never
B. Every day or at least when you’re socializing
C. You don’t smoke, but those around you do
When you’re stressed you:
A. Uncork a bottle of wine
B. Grab a spoon and some Haagen-Dazs
C. Assume the downward-facing dog yoga pose or hit the gym
You prefer to:
A. Keep to yourself
B. Be surrounded by people
C. Have a mix of both: some alone time is good, but you enjoy the company of others
occasionally too
You restrict your daily salt intake to no more than:
A. ½ teaspoon
B. 1 teaspoon
C. You have no idea how much salt you consume
You try to be physically active every day for at least:
A. 20 minutes
B. 30 minutes
C. You mean to exercise, but it just doesn’t happen
Your waist is:
A. 35 inches around or smaller
B. Larger than 35 inches
C. An unknown size, but your stretchy pants still fit
You consider yourself to be:
A. An optimist. Good things can happen if you have the right attitude.
B. A laissez-faire type person: What will be, will be.
C. A pessimist. If something’s going to go wrong, it will.

You are:
A. Menopausal
B. In surgically-induced menopause
C. Still too young to worry about menopause

1. A=1 point. B=1 point. C=1 point. Having just one of these conditions is cause for concern, but having more than one (or worse, all three) multiplies your odds of ticker troubles. That’s because high blood pressure (readings above 140/90 mm HG) enlarges and weakens your heart over time; bad cholesterol stops up your arteries; and diabetes makes you prone to cholesterol problems and heart attacks. You can’t change certain heart disease risk factors like your genetics, race, age or gender, but you can take charge of these three biggies by eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting regular health screenings, and taking medications (if needed) to keep your levels in a healthy range.

2. A=0 points. B=1 point. C=1 point. Artery-clogging cholesterol restricts blood flow to your heart. Since there’s no way to tell if there’s too much of this waxy junk building up in your system, it’s vital that you get your levels checked at least every five years—more often if your doctor recommends it. Your goal is to have low-density lipoprotein levels below 130 mg/dL (this is the artery-blocking stuff); high-density lipoprotein levels of at least 40 mg/dL (this good cholesterol clears the bad gunk away); and triglyceride levels below 150 mg/dL. Dietary changes can help: Cut back on high-cholesterol foods like fatty dairy products and meats; eat more fruits and vegetables; and roast, bake or grill foods instead of frying them.
3. A=0 points. B=1 point. C=1 point. When you smoke—even occasionally while hanging out with friends—the nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco rev up your heart rate and blood pressure and shrink your arteries. All of this internal action makes you three times more likely to have a heart attack than your nonsmoking friends. Fortunately, you can undo some of this damage: After one smoke-free year, your heart risks are sliced in half; in three years, they’re about the same as someone who’s never lit up. If you’re a nonsmoker surrounded by puffers, consider making lifestyle or workplace changes: According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet No. 339 issued in July 2011,  more than 600,000 die each year from heart disease brought on from exposure to second-hand smoke.
4. A=1 point. B=1 point. C=0 points. That heart-racing feeling you get when you’re stressed isn’t all in your head. A surge in the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol puts the squeeze on your blood vessels causing your blood pressure to spike. Of course, it doesn’t help that you’re more likely to do things that you shouldn’t—like devour a carton of ice cream, drink too much bubbly or smoke— when you’re frazzled. Try finding more healthful ways to relieve tension. For instance, numerous studies show yoga helps your heart by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Or lace up your sneakers and go for a walk.
5. A=1 point. B=0 points. C=0 points. Being a loner isn’t a bad thing—as long as you stay connected with a few folks who care about your well-being. A 2006 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that women who live alone are twice as likely to have serious heart problems as those who share their lives with
others. “You may be more prone to depression and less inclined to take good care of your health when you don’t have someone’s support,” says AHA spokesperson Nieca Goldberg, M.D., director of New York University’s Women’s Heart Center. If your phone’s quiet and your social calendar’s empty, consider volunteering; becoming more
involved in community, church or social groups; or establishing a regular phone call or monthly dinner date with a loved one.
6. A=0 points.  B=0 points. C=1 point. You know that bloated feeling you get after polishing off a bag of chips? Well, it’s not just your ability to zip your pants that’s affected. Your heart and arteries are forced to work harder when your body’s overloaded with salt and retaining water. This causes your blood pressure to shoot up. Experts advise consuming no more than one teaspoon of salt a day (that’s 2,300 milligrams) or half that amount if you have high blood pressure, are older than 50, or are African American. (African Americans have more severe blood pressure problems.) Putting down the salt shaker is a good start, but since 75 percent of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods like soups, condiments and canned goods, it’s more important that you read labels carefully (watch for the words “soda” and “sodium”) and buy low- or no-salt products when possible. Also, check your medications. Surprisingly, certain ones like antacids contain salt.
7. A=1 point. B=0 points. C=1 point. We know it’s easier to make time for excuses than for exercise, but being physically active for 30 minutes a day most days of the week is one of the best things you can do for your heart—and fitting it in isn’t nearly as impossible as you might think. Walking around the block, weeding your yard and mopping that sticky kitchen floor all count. And remember, you don’t have to commit to 30 straight minutes of sweat: You can squeeze in three 10-minute sessions throughout your day.
8. A=0 points. B=1 point. C=1 point. Elastic waistband pants may be comfy, but if you find yourself needing too much breathing room, it’s time to assess the strain those extra pounds are placing on your heart. Ab flab increases your risk of heart disease even if you have no other risk factors. But you don’t have to be supermodel thin: Dropping just 10 percent of your body weight helps.
9. A=0 points. B=1 point. C=1 point. Being a naysayer doesn’t just put you at risk for having few friends. It also makes you 10 percent more likely to develop heart disease, according to an August 2009 study published in the AHA’s journal Circulation. Positive thinkers tend to be more assertive about taking charge of the events that shape their lives. And when you feel better about yourself and your life, you’re less likely to engage in heart-damaging activities like smoking and more likely to participate in healthful activities.
10. A=1 point. B=1 point. C=0 points. As if hot flashes weren’t bad enough, diminishing levels of estrogen brought on by age- or surgically-induced menopause can threaten your heart health. Before menopause, this helpful hormone keeps total blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels low while boosting good cholesterol. Once estrogen production stops, your risk of heart attack and stroke rise significantly. Women also tend to pack on heart-hazardous belly fat after menopause, which makes a healthy diet and exercise even more important.
Assess your risk
7 points and higher: High Risk. You may be breaking your heart. Talk to your doctor—Stat!
4 to 6 points: Moderate Risk. You could be headed for heartache.  Learn how to lower your risk by consulting your doctor.
Fewer than 4 points: Low Risk. Your heart {hearts} you.

About Jeanette Moninger