Q: Mom, Dad and my grandparents all passed in their early 60s from either heart attacks or strokes. I'm 35 and scared. What can I do to avoid the same fate?
— Fred M., Tulsa, Okla.
A: Like Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his sidekick Angelica (Penelope Cruz) in "On Stranger Tides," we all are searching for the secret to a long, long life. Well, we are here to tell you there's no need to take to the high seas in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth. You can swashbuckle your way to a heart-healthy old age and cut your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke during the next 20 years by more than 60 percent if you adopt some smart-living steps.
Don't smoke or hang around people who do.
Be physically active; walk 10,000 steps a day!
Keep blood pressure at 115/75: Dr. Mike's numbers are 115/75; Dr. Oz stays around 110/75.
Keep your triglycerides at 100 or less; HDL at 60 or above, LDL under 100, and hs C-reactive protein (inflammation marker) at 1 or less.
Keep blood glucose level around 85 in the morning before breakfast.
Floss regularly and see a dental pro every six months.
Maintain a healthy weight, a body mass index of 18.5-24.9.
Avoid the five food felons: trans fats, saturated fats, added sugars, any syrups, and any grain but 100 percent whole grain.
Talk with your doc about taking two baby aspirins every day (drink warm water before and after): for guys 35+; gals 40+.
Have a buddy to talk or walk with daily.
Have an activity you love.
Although middle-age children of parents with heart disease are more likely to have cardio problems, an unhealthy familial lifestyle is more risky than genetics. (You got a lot more from your mom than your genes — like her meatloaf recipe!) So put aside your fears, and pick up your sneakers; put down that doughnut and pick up an apple; and add some money to your savings account; you are going to have years and years to adventure on the high seas yourself.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is the chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Submit your health questions at www.doctoroz.com.
(c) 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.