I recently gave a talk to discuss how to keep the heart healthy and avoid heart disease. February is designated as heart health month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Yet within our country, there are doctors who consistently treat their patients to the latest research such that for their patients, heart disease is no longer the leading cause of death! In fact, their patients chance of dying from heart disease is 30% less than those of other doctors and hospitals in the same communities.
Their secret? Knowing your numbers and then treating them. Risk factors for heart disease include the following:
The older you are, the more likely you will have heart disease. In terms of gender, men will tend to have heart disease at an earlier age. Women will see their risk gradually increase after menopause (average age of menopause is age 51).
Cholesterol is a risk factor, but needs to be determined in the context of the above risk factors. An excellent heart risk calculator is the 10 year risk calculator. Punch in your numbers. (Patients who have diabetes or a previous history of heart disease don't use this calculator because you should already be on cholesterol lowering medications called "statins"). The calculator is from data generated from the Framingham heart study, the nation's longest heart study.
Those with < 10 % risk, continue lowering your risk by dietary changes and exercise. Those with 20% or great risk, contact your doctor immediately and find out if you should start taking cholesterol lowering medications, blood pressure medications, or quit smoking as a 1 in 5 chance of dying from a heart attack or having one is pretty high! Those between 10 to 20% should see their doctor and ask what more can they do to lower risk.
Need more? Here's the secrets to preventing heart disease courtesy of Kaiser Permanente.