|
|
Examiner
  • A valentine for the heart

  • Many of you are in the midst of a search for the perfect expression of love to those significant people in your life, be that chocolate, flowers, a card or the affectionate gesture of a special meal or outing.

    • email print
  • Many of you are in the midst of a search for the perfect expression of love to those significant people in your life, be that chocolate, flowers, a card or the affectionate gesture of a special meal or outing.
    While you ponder the many ways you might give your heart to another, I hope you’ll take some time to consider the health of that heart you so fervently wish to share with that special someone.
    February may be Cupid’s time, but it is also the 50th anniversary of Heart Month. It’s a time to be reminded of the great challenge before us in slowing the tide of the number-one killer of both men and women in America – cardiovascular disease.
    Each year, studies reveal new sources of risk to your heart health. Unemployment, lack of sleep and even commuting in heavy traffic are now recognized as adverse to cardiovascular function.
    Some risk factors can be controlled, and some can’t. According to the American Heart Association, the leading factors putting you at risk for coronary artery disease or a heart attack include:
    n    Age: The majority of people who die from coronary heart disease are 65 or older. Older women are more likely to die from heart attacks than older men.
    n    Gender: Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and have attacks earlier in life. Still, post-menopausal women are at increased risk, and for women in general, it’s more deadly than all forms of cancer.
    n    Family history: If your parents or close relatives have had heart disease, you are more likely to develop it yourself.
    n    Race: Cardiovascular risk is higher among African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans.
    Among those risk factors that can be controlled are:
    n    Smoking: Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times.
    n    High cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
    n    Excess weight: Excess body fat-particularly in the waist-is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke even if you have no other risk factors.
    n    Diabetes: Nearly three-quarters of people with diabetes die from some form of cardiovascular disease.
    n    High blood pressure: High blood pressure causes the heart to thicken and become stiff. This puts you at risk for stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. Coupled with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several times.
    n    Sedentary lifestyle: If you are primarily inactive physically, your risk for heart disease goes up.
    The Health and Human Services department has summed it up nicely in its “Million Hearts” program, launched in September 2011.
    Page 2 of 2 - In an effort to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016, HHS is asking Americans to make healthy choices, by avoiding tobacco and reducing red meat and sodium intake, as well as improving care for people who already need treatment, by learning and remembering the ABCs.
    A: Aspirin for folks at risk
    B: Blood pressure control;
    C: Cholesterol control;
    S: Smoking cessation.
    Make sure you heart is in good shape to provide those perfect expressions of love for years to come. Cupid is counting on it.
    Marco Mazzella, MD, FACC; Carondelet Heart Institute, St. Mary’s Medical Center.
      • calendar