As the rates of obesity continue to steadily rise in our country, the diagnoses of heart disease are also increasing and being diagnosed at younger ages. The statistics are overwhelming; according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnicities within the United States with 647,000 deaths per year. This figure equates to 1 in every 4 deaths and a death every 37 seconds due to heart disease. While these statistics may sound downright depressing, take “heart” in knowing that there are some risk factors that can be prevented and/or modified and pick up some quick tips to guide you toward heart healthy living.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): According to the CDC, 45% of American adults are on medication or have been diagnosed with hypertension. However, only 24% of those diagnosed have their blood pressure under control through medication and/or lifestyle changes. In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association updated their hypertension guidelines to define hypertension as a resting pressure reading of 130 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). Long term effects of uncontrolled hypertension can result in heart attacks and/or strokes, so it’s essential that you are aware of your resting blood pressure and check with your provider if your readings are consistently elevated. Take your resting blood pressure and compare it with the chart below to see where you fall for your risk of developing hypertension.
|Blood Pressure Classification||Systolic Reading||Diastolic Reading|
|Normal||< 120 mm Hg||< 80 mm Hg|
|Elevated||120-129 mm Hg||< 80 mm Hg|
|Stage 1||130-139 mm Hg||> 80 mm Hg|
|Stage 2||> 140 mm Hg||> 90 mm Hg|
High Cholesterol Levels: There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. An easy mnemonic device for remembering the good cholesterol is to consider your HDL cholesterol to be the “housekeeping” cholesterol that offers some protection against heart disease. It’s the build-up of the LDL cholesterol that leads to narrowed arteries and decreased blood flow to your vital organs. The best way to know your cholesterol levels is to have your labs drawn. Our Direct Access lab tests are a great and affordable way to check in on your cholesterol levels without a provider’s referral and are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Physical Activity: The American Heart Association recommends to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week to aid in preventing chronic diseases. This breaks down to 30 minutes for 5 days per week and can be accomplished through a wide variety of activities. When exercising at a moderate level, you should be able to freely converse with someone without much effort. Our Wellness Center offers fun classes for all abilities such as Zumba, boot camp, rowing classes, and Silver Sneakers to help you get social while working toward your 150-minute goal.
Other Risk Factors: There are other lifestyle and behavior risk factors that play a significant part in your overall heart health; these include tobacco use, other chronic diseases, high-sodium/high-fat diets, and excessive alcohol use. Taking small steps to change some of your lifestyle behaviors can lead to big overall health benefits and disease prevention to ensure not only additional years added to your life but quality years. Here’s to your heart health in 2020!
Learn more about Direct Lab Testing at Windom Area Health by Clicking Here or call 507-831-2400.
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By Amber Hughes