Anyone with heart disease or risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke should seek medical advice before beginning a workout program. Patients with heart disease can nearly always exercise safely as long as they are evaluated beforehand. Some will need to begin their workout under medical supervision. Still, it is often difficult for a doctor to predict health problems that might arise as the result of an exercise program. At-risk individuals should be very aware of any symptoms warning of harmful complications while they exercise.
Some believe that anyone over 40 years old, whether or not they are at risk for heart disease, should have a complete physical examination before starting or intensifying an exercise program. Some doctors use a questionnaire for people over 40 to help determine whether they require such an examination. The questions they use are as follows:
- Has any doctor previously recommended medically supervised activity because of a heart condition?
- Does physical activity bring on chest pain?
- Has chest pain occurred during the previous month?
- Does the person faint or fall over from dizziness?
- Does bone or joint pain intensify during or after exercise?
- Has medication been prescribed for hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart problems?
- Is the person aware of, or has a doctor suggested, any physical reason for not exercising without medical supervision?
Those who answer “yes” to any of the above questions should have a complete medical examination before developing an exercise program. Some people should get a full evaluation and a stress test.
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