February is the month for hearts….not just the hearts we send for Valentine’s Day, but for human hearts, and especially for the hearts of women. In February, the American Heart Association celebrates Go Red For Women, an initiative to prevent heart disease and stroke in women.
Did you know that every 80 seconds a woman dies of cardiovascular disease? Cardiovascular disease claims more women’s lives than all forms of cancer combined.
Eighty percent of heart disease may be prevented by knowing your family history, knowing your own heart risks and making lifestyle changes. What is it that we need to know?
We need to know our blood pressure, our blood sugar, our body mass index, our total cholesterol and our HDL (good) cholesterol levels. These numbers, along with certain behaviors and family history help our health care providers teach us about our risk of cardiovascular disease.
One in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure and many who are not aware or are not treated. High blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the body and brain. This damage increases the risk of blood clots or rupture of the vessel, and that decreases oxygen to vital organs. In the brain that causes a stroke. A normal blood pressure is 120/80 and even reducing your blood pressure a little, when it is high, can have a big impact on your life.
Your blood sugar should be controlled. Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100.
When blood sugar is in the 100-125 range that is considered prediabetic, and if it is 126 or higher then you have diabetes. What you eat and how active you are will help your blood sugar and many times be enough to control diabetes. Sometimes medications are required if diet and exercise do not adequately control your numbers.
Body mass index is a height/weight calculation. A normal body mass index (BMI) is 20-25. Over 25 is considered overweight. Over 30 is obese and increases risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and high blood sugar (diabetes).
One in three adults are overweight or obese in the U. S. making the problems of heart disease a real healthcare crisis.
Cholesterol and HDL can only be checked with blood work. High cholesterol is often related to genetics so even thin people can have high cholesterol and low HDL. Be sure to have these checked so you can address this silent part of the cardiovascular disease puzzle.
Take time to get your numbers checked and consult with a health care professional to see how you can make lifestyle changes to help your heart. Here at Fayette County Memorial Hospital and FCMH Medical Surgical Associates, we are committed to being your partner in health. Come see us to have your numbers checked and keep your heart healthy.