Be Heart Healthy
The best defense against heart disease is to stay educated and avoid developing it.
Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Women are eight times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer. The good news is that this deadly disease is largely preventable, with more than 90% of contributing factors being lifestyle choices.
Heart disease most commonly refers to coronary artery disease - a condition caused by blockages in the blood vessels that feed the heart. Over time plaque, a substance containing cholesterol, builds up inside the arteries. As the blood flow is restricted, the heart muscle becomes damaged. A heart attack occurs when there is permanent damage, killing a portion of the heart. Sudden cardiac death occurs if blood flow restriction prevents the heart from pumping blood effectively to the rest of the body.
- Increasing age (65+)
- Genetic or hereditary factors
- High blood pressure
- Consuming large amounts of fat
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- Chronic kidney disease
- Obesity or a sedentary lifestyle
Women are at a Higher Risk of Heart Disease
As a woman you should get an accurate picture of your heart health, which should include these tests - especially after menopause when a woman's risk of heart disease skyrockets.
- Cholesterol: Beginning at age 45, women should have their cholesterol testing annually; start testing younger if you have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol. Guidelines call for total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl, with LDL (bad cholesterol) under 100 mg/dl and HDL (good cholesterol) over 50 mg/dl.
- Blood pressure: Called the silent killer; high blood pressure does not cause any symptoms until it's too late, so get tested annually beginning at age 18. Shoot for 120/80 mmHg or below.
- Waist size: Abdominal fat is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. Women should have a waistline smaller than 35 inches and a BMI of less than 25.
- Blood glucose: Type 2 diabetes or "pre-diabetes" more than doubles your chances of heart disease - and one out of every three adult Americans with this condition don't know they have it. Get a fasting glucose test every year after 45; start testing younger if you are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or had gestation diabetes. A fasting glucose should be under 100 mg/dl.
- Coronary calcium screening: If you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors, you should consider this simple CT scan that will measure the amount of plaque buildup in your arteries.
- EKG, Echocardiogram, stress test: These tests measure the strength of the heart and are recommended only for people at risk of heart disease.
Littleton Adventist Hospital strives to raise awareness through education to help our communities maintain healthy hearts and encourage early detection of heart disease. Our experts share their knowledge and partner with other organizations to help educate the public on heart health and proper response to chest pain. Within our facility, our experts continually seek the most current information on cardiac health and procedures for saving lives. We offer the most current technology for diagnosing and saving lives.
The MEGA Heart™ at the 2010 Family Health Fair
The Centura Cardiac and Vascular Network comes together to maintain the highest standards of education and reduce the number of cardiac patients in need of assistance through community efforts to diminish heart disease in our state. Learn more about Centura's partnerships and community education programs: Centura Cardiac and Vascular Network.
Tools & Tips for a Healthier Heart
Target Heart Rate Calculator
Body Mass Index Calculator
Desirable Body Weight Calculator
Calorie Burner Calculator
Nutritional Needs Calculator
"Cook For Your Heart with Simple Substitutions," from Your Health Your Hospital.
Your body needs cholesterol to work properly, but extra cholesterol in your blood can build up inside the walls of your arteries obstructing the normal flow of blood. HDL ("good" cholesterol) and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels are an indication of arterial health. Choosing foods with the right fat can help elevate good cholesterol and keep your LDL levels under control.
Aerobic fitness is particularly important for a healthy heart. Steady, physical activity makes use of large muscle groups and improves the oxygen disbursement inside the body, strengthening and improving internal functions. For maximum benefits, work up to a 20 - 30 minute routine, three to five times per week.
Monitor Your Health
Because factors such as family history can increase a person's risk for heart disease, it is important to stay educated and visit a family doctor for regular check-ups. Education and prevention can lead to a healthy heart.