As you know, I occasionally feature guest bloggers who are experts in their field and who can augment the Voice of Reason with credible, informative entries. This week, I’m happy to hand over the pen to my friend and colleague Dr. Suzanne R. Steinbaum, Director, Women and Heart Disease Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City…
Heart Disease is the number one killer in the United States. Amazingly, 80% of heart attacks are associated with at least one risk factor that has been identified as modifiable. The risk factors that lead to heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, family history and age. Many think that if heart disease does not run in their family, then they are not at risk. With the statistic that 80% of the time, there is something you actually can do to prevent a heart attack, clearly it is worth making the effort, even if no one in your family has any heart problems.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even diabetes are 3 conditions that can lead to heart disease, and that can be reversed or controlled with lifestyle choices. It is frightening to think that 40-60% of the time, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death. I would say, with these odds, prevention is the most compelling option. At the root of the problem is the way that we live. Studies from other cultures, such as the China Study, revealed that there is a lower incidence of heart disease until the culture becomes westernized.
With diet and exercise, it has been shown there is a reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol and even a reduction in the risk of developing diabetes, which almost guarantees heart disease. At the foundation of prevention is, simply, empowerment.
Consciously doing the right things — eating well, exercising and living an active and healthy life — makes a difference. Getting older doesn’t equate with a diminishing quality of life. I contend aging is a process that allows us to flourish. The inevitable is not getting sick. The potential is growing old healthy. And it really is within our control and within our power to make a difference.