Friday, December 2, 2011

Heart Disease: Why It Matters to You

If someone asked you which disease causes the most deaths in the United States, what would you say?

If you answered “cancer,” it wouldn’t be surprising. But it would also be incorrect.

Dr. Khan“Heart disease is the likeliest cause of death for everyone,” said Cardiologist Irfan A. Khan, who spoke at a recent Heart Health for Women seminar hosted by Catholic Health.

Often thought to be a man’s disease, heart disease can be devastating for women.

Dr. MeesalaCardiologist Mrinalini Meesala, who also presented at the event, said that heart disease is the number one killer of women, who often delay care and receive less aggressive treatment than men.

In 2007, heart disease accounted for half of all deaths in women, causing one death per minute among women in the United States – more deaths than were caused by cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer disease, and accidents combined (Source: American Heart Association).

Prevention is the Best Medicine

Despite its prevalence, heart disease isn’t inevitable. Dr. Meesala said that prevention is the best treatment.

Dr. Khan agreed. “The lifestyles changes that you make now affect how the next ten to fifteen years look.”

Here’s what you can do to reduce your risk:

Stop smoking.

The American Medical Association says that smoking is responsible for one in four cases of heart disease (Source: Health Library).

Make a plan to quit with the help of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline, which offers checklists, a free kit, and telephone access to a quit coach.

Incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle.

Regular physical activity keeps your heart and blood vessels healthy.

For women, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes each week of vigorous exercise.

If you need to lose weight or sustain weight loss, strive for at least 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (i.e. brisk walking) on most, if not all, days of the week.

Eat a heart-healthy diet.

Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and fish are all part of a heart-healthy diet, according to Dr. Meesala.

The American Heart Association recommends a serving of fish, especially oily fish, at least twice weekly.

Reduce and/or maintain your weight.

Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, even if you don’t have other risk factors (Source: Health Library).

Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease. Because they may not cause any noticeable symptoms, it’s important that you know your levels.

Get yours checked at a free Catholic Health screening provided by Registered Nurses. Click here for details on upcoming screenings.

No matter what your age or current state of health, cardiovascular disease is a threat. Invest in your future – make the right choices today to prevent heart disease in the coming years.

1 comment:

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