Take control of your heart health with help from Providence cardiac experts

January 30, 2012
February is American Heart Month, an annual reminder for Americans to take stock of their cardiac health. Heart disease continues to kill more parents, kids, grandparents and friends every year than any other single disease. Every 60 seconds an American dies from heart disease. While some risk factors cannot be controlled – age, gender and family history – those that can include smoking, exercising, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, cholesterol and stress. Providence experts are available for interviews on the following topics of heart health:

What you eat plays a significant role in the health of your heart. A number of smart phone apps could help make a difference at your dinner table. Providence experts are seeing success with apps that focus on healthy recipes, menu planning, weight management, sodium tracking and blood sugar monitoring. If you eat out, consider apps that provide nutritional information on menu items, brand foods and major restaurants. There’s even an app that calculates the calorie information of the food on your plate based on a photo you shoot of the meal.

A new study confirms controlling high blood pressure at any time reduces the risk of heart disease, but not letting it creep up in the first place is even better. The study showed that men in their 40s who reduced their high blood pressure significantly lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease in their 50s. Men who did little or nothing to control their high blood pressure in their 40s ended up with hypertension. High blood pressure is associated with thickening of the arteries which makes the heart work harder, leading to range of ailments and even death. While some prescription medicines can help with high blood pressure, many experts recommend lifestyle changes including a healthy diet, exercise and no tobacco use.  

More women than men die from heart disease, and now new research indicates women who smoke have a greater risk of developing coronary artery disease than men who smoke. Cardiac experts find this disturbing because, statistically, more women are starting to smoke, while fewer men are picking up the habit. In addition, men who quit smoking fared better at recovering their health than women did. While some heart disease risk factors cannot be controlled, many can – including the use of tobacco. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, one year after a person stops smoking, they cut their risk of heart disease in half.

Thousands of Northwest Guide to Heart-Healthy Living booklets are available free to Oregonians at hundreds of grocery stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The 10th anniversary of the edition includes information and tips on lifestyle changes that are healthy for the heart. The publication also explains the new Department of Agriculture guidelines on what to eat, and how much – imagine a dinner plate separated into four sections, with the two largest for vegetables and grains, and the smaller two for fruits and protein. The guide also explains how to read food labels and how to use the information to build a healthy diet.