February is appropriately named Heart Health Month. I often associate this month with Valentine’s and thoughts of love toward my wife and family. What better way to show your love for those closest to you than to do things to stay healthy?
Did you know that the number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease? What is your personal risk for heart attack? You can find out how likely you are to have a heart attack in the next 10 years by going to http://www.cvriskcalculator.com/ with these three numbers: 1) your total cholesterol, 2) your good HDL cholesterol, and 3) your blood pressure. With this information, you can easily do the calculation yourself. If you don’t know these numbers and have had these tests done, you are able to access your results via your patient portal. If you don’t remember how to access your patient portal, call our office. We can help to get you access or give you results from a previous test. If you haven’t had these tests recently, visit your doctor right away to get tested.
The recommended goal is to have a risk factor under 7.5%. If you have a percentage above that, it is recommended that you intervene with medication and/or changes in lifestyle and diet.
Here are ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack:
- Controlling blood pressure: The goal is to be under 140/90. Controlling blood pressure is a great way to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Control your cholesterol: Finding out what your cholesterol numbers are is the first step. The next thing is to act on those numbers.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking dramatically increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Smoking is also a leading cause of cancer.
- Diabetes: Controlling weight and increasing exercise are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Diabetes doubles your risk for heart attack, and experts recommend that everyone that has diabetes be on a statin.
- Exercise regularly: The goal is to have at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Not only do you reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, but you also improve your physical and mental well-being.
Other general ways to improve your health include:
- Adequate sleep: The recommended amount is 7-9 hours per night.
- Don’t smoke: If you want to stop smoking, the state of Utah provides a free cessation program with counseling. You can reach them at 1-800-Quit-Now.
- Manage stress: Stress is linked to heart disease because it raises your blood pressure. Stress can even be a “trigger” to heart attacks. Positive ways to manage stress can be exercising, journaling, meditating, drawing, and listening to music. Find something you enjoy that brings you peace and stick with that!
- Have a healthy diet: What we put in our bodies has a major effect on our heart health. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, limit alcohol, and drink plenty of water. Keeping processed foods to a minimum will make your heart happier in the long run.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease because of other heart-related factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Implementing a healthy diet with a moderate exercise schedule can greatly reduce your risk of becoming overweight or obese. Try to have a body mass index between 20 to 25. If you are curious as to what your BMI is, click on the link for a BMI calculator: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
During February show your love for your family and yourself by keeping “heart-healthy.”
Roman Takasaki, MD
Canyon View Family Medicine