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Three Cardio-Health Questions With Jarett Berry, M.D.

Guys, take heart. You can boost your cardio health, but the time to get started is now.

Q: 

What should all men know about heart disease by the time they are age 30?

A: 

Heart disease is typically a disease that occurs after the age of 50. However, what determines your heart disease risk in later life are the risk factors you develop in your 20s and 30s. We’ve all heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But our research at UT Southwestern takes that even further: An earlier ounce of prevention is really worth much more than that - perhaps years of life. The best time to begin paying attention to your heart health is now, no matter your age. There’s solid evidence that a healthy lifestyle is beneficial across all ages.

Q:

What are the biggest risk factors for heart disease in men?

A:

By far the biggest risk factors include smoking, diabetes, hyper-tension, and high cholesterol. An unhealthy lifestyle also can contribute to heart disease through the development of these risk factors. I often tell my patients that obesity now means diabetes and hyper-tension later. That’s why a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and a heart-healthy diet is so important, because it is these patterns of behavior that influence the burden of heart disease risk factors across a life span. UT Southwestern’s interactive website, utswmedicine.org/heartiq, offers the latest information on how food, fitness, and family affect your heart health.

Q:

Do genetics play a role in heart disease?

A:

That’s one of the more common questions that patients ask in our Preventive Cardiology Program at UT Southwestern. The short answer is that they do. Currently, the best way to measure the role of genetics is through a family history of premature heart disease. In general, a premature family history doubles your risk for heart disease. Interpreting your family history can be complex, so I typically recommend talking with your doctor, because evaluation and potential treatment strategies need to be personalized for each patient.


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Jarett Berry, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, is an expert on long-term cardiovascular risk estimation whose research has appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine and other publications. He received his initial medical training at UT Southwestern, followed by a fellowship in cardiology at Northwestern University.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Berry, call 214-645-8300.