NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — February is American Heart Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report approximately 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable when individuals make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their health conditions.
Risk factors are health conditions and lifestyle habits that increase your risk of heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of having a heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco smoke exposure
- High blood cholesterol
- Uncontrolled stress
- Increasing age
- Family medical history
“Common heart issues include coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation,” said Maj. (Dr.) Steven Regwan, 99th MDOS chief of cardiology.
While certain risk factors such as age and family history of early heart disease cannot be changed, it is important to understand that you can lower your risk for heart disease.
“To maintain a healthy heart is to maintain a healthy lifestyle through daily aerobic exercises, limiting alcohol intake, smoking cessation and dietary modifications,” said Lynda Le, 99th Medical Operations Squadron cardiology physician assistant. “Patients should [also] have routine checkups, at least annually and screenings if he/she has a family history of heart disease.”
According to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine website, these are additional ways to prevent heart disease:
- Know your blood pressure to be able to mitigate high blood pressure
- Get tested for diabetes and if you have it, keep it under control
- Know your cholesterol and triglyceride levels to make sure you maintain healthy levels
- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
Regwan suggests doing running, jogging, swimming, biking and any other exercise that increases your heart rate for a sustained period of time.
For more information visit the AHA at http://www.heart.org.