Fight with Heart
By Gregory Kosters, DO, of Avera Medical Group Sibley & Osceola Regional Health Center
In addition to celebrating Valentine’s Day in February, we use this month to emphasize heart disease and raise awareness about heart disease and how we can all maximize our heart health.
In 1964, at the request of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed February as Heart Health Month, and it has been observed ever since.
Despite the efforts to emphasize heart health, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 690,000 Americans died of heart disease in 2022 – that’s one in every four deaths. This is more than cancer (602,000), COVID-19 (350,000), accidents (about 200,000) or stroke (160,000).
Your risk of heart disease can be affected by: age, especially if you are over 65; gender, men are more likely than women to have heart disease; genetics, you are more likely to have heart disease if a close relative has/had heart disease; smoking increases heart disease risk; low physical activity is a major risk factor; overweight individuals are more likely to have heart disease; stress – our body’s response to stress can damage the heart; alcohol intake can increase heart disease risk if excessive (more than two drinks per day); and a diet that consists of too much sugar and fats and not enough fiber all contribute to poorer heart health.
Some risk factors for heart disease we cannot change include our family history, age and gender. The other risk factors we can do something about. So, what can you do to decrease your risk of heart disease?
- Get regular medical checkups to evaluate your heart disease risk. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, uncontrolled diabetes and obesity increase risk of heart disease and can be treated.
- Get regular exercise: 140 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, biking, swimming, jogging and similar activities) can reduce risk of heart disease.
- Lose weight if your body mass index (BMI) is over 30 – your doctor can let you know your BMI.
- If you smoke, quit. Your doctor can help you with resources for this.
- Keep your blood pressure under control.
- Limit alcohol intake.
At Avera Medical Group Sibley and Osceola Regional Health Center, we have resources to help you determine your heart disease risk such as the Planet Heart program, and providers who can help you assess your cardiac risk and modify the risk factors to reduce your risk of heart disease so you do not have to be one of the 690,000 Americans who will die of heart disease this year.
By the way, you do not have to wait until February to get checked, this can be done every month of the year.
If you have any concerns, contact Avera Medical Group Sibley at 712-754-3658, Osceola Regional Health Center at 712-754-2574, or connect with the American Heart Association: https://www.heart.org.