February is American Heart Month
In honor of American Heart Month in February, RediClinic encourages you to learn about ways to prevent heart disease and get on track to better heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 610,000 Americans die of heart disease annually – about one in four deaths. It is also a leading cause of disability.
Know the Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Major risk factors are those that research has shown significantly increase the risk of heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chance for developing it. Some risk factors, such as family history, ethnicity and age, cannot be changed. For example, if your biological parent or sibling has had heart disease or stroke before the age of 55 years (for a male) or 65 years (for a female), your risk is higher.
Risk Factors You Can Change
However, there are many risk factors for heart disease that can be controlled with a combination of healthy lifestyle choices and medication.
- High blood pressure. High blood pressure can result in damage to the heart, and often leads to heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Lifestyle changes and medication can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- High blood cholesterol. High total cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Healthy eating, exercise and medication can help lower cholesterol levels.
- Physical inactivity. More than half of American adults do not get the 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week recommended by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical activity decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
- Overweight and obesity. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, with one-third of the population considered obese. Obesity also increases the risk of developing diabetes.
- Smoking. All types of tobacco use increase the risk of heart disease, while quitting will reduce your risk, no matter how long you have smoked.
- Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, or high blood sugar levels, affects many major organs, including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Diabetes can be controlled with healthy eating, medication and other behavior modifications.
- Poor diet. A diet high in saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, while eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products reduces risk.
- Excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure and reduce the effectiveness of medications.
Better Heart Health Starts at RediClinic
RediClinic offers diabetes tests and other screenings to help you evaluate your heart disease risk. A board-certified RediClinic clinician can draw blood to evaluate your cholesterol and glucose levels, and check blood pressure, waist size and weight. See the wide range of tests available at your nearest RediClinic diabetes clinic in Texas, Washington, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware or New Jersey.