Heart disease and stroke are at epidemic levels in the United States every year. The statistics are staggering and continuing to climb. A 2012 American Heart Association report offers recent numbers for the incidence of some level of cardiovascular disease (CVD):
- 10–12 percent of men and women between the ages of 20 and 39
- 35–40 percent of adults between the ages of 40 and 59
- 69 percent average of all adults aged 60 to 79
- 80 percent of all adults over the age of 80
Fortunately, deaths due to CVD have gone down over the past few decades, but heart attack and stroke still remain the two top killers in the U.S. Part of the reason that the death toll may be in a state of reduction is because doctors are very clear with their patients about the risk factors for stroke and heart disease, and can treat patients preventively with well tolerated medications.
Doctors instill in patients the importance of making lifestyle changes to prevent the debilitating conditions and even reverse heart damage that has already progressed. Technology is assisting the doctors’ efforts with tests that help to catch the early onset of many forms of cardiovascular disorders. Finally, over the last decades medication has been developed which drastically reduces the mortality and morbidity associated with heart disease and stroke.
It’s Risky Business
As illustrated in the statistics above, age is a huge risk factor for heart attack, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. At the same time, men tend to have cardiovascular events that lead to death more often and earlier than women. Heredity is another factor taken into a risk assessment you might undergo. You are much more likely to have heart disease or stroke if your parents did.
Finally, ethnicity also plays a role in your risk assessment. African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often and more severely than other races. American Indians, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans and native Hawaiians score higher in the heart disease department. This is partly due to lack of access to medical treatment and information, but it’s also caused by the high rates of obesity and diabetes in non-Caucasian populations in the United States.
The good news is that with lifestyle modifications and medications, you can prevent and reverse heart disease. Even with a family history and other negative risk factors playing against you, you can make significant strides in reducing the chances that you will have a stroke or heart attack.
The scientifically proven methods to reduce your risk factor for stroke and heart disease are clear and consistent:
- Put down the cigarettes and avoid contact with second-hand smoke. Smoking can severely damage your blood vessels, making them weak and susceptible to disease. Smoking is the number one independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Maintain an acceptable level of cholesterol. Get checked when you visit your cardiologist. Include tests for cholesterol and triglycerides in your annual check-up. Diet, age and heredity all play significant roles in your levels.
- Keep your blood pressure in check. Whether you need to take medications to manage high blood pressure or make simple diet modifications, make every effort to keep it low. High blood pressure puts too heavy of a load on your heart for it to maintain its optimum health for long.
- Stay physically active. In addition to increasing your heart health, a regular regimen of moderate exercise also helps you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and keep your weight in check.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Obesity leads to diabetes and a host of other complications that tax your heart and put you at a much greater risk of developing some level of heart disease. Even if you have no other known risk factors, if you are overweight, you’re more likely to have a stroke or heart attack than others with normal body weight.
- Eat right. Proper nutrition also plays a huge role in controlling all the other risk factors. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat calcium help protect you from CVD. Avoid saturated fats and salt to leave the CVD in the dust.
When All Else Fails
You can turn to your doctor or cardiologist at NYC Cardiology, Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates for some assistance in fighting back the risk factors that could lead to heart failure or a fatal stroke. In addition to taking advantage of the many assessment tests, you may benefit from some of the medical management techniques for controlling risk factors, such as:
- Cholesterol medications
- Antiplatelets and blood thinners
- Blood pressure medicines
- Medication to control diabetes and blood sugar
- Weight management tools
- Vitamins that include nutrients like potassium and calcium
- Treatment for substance abuse
Do you have questions? Would like to schedule an appointment with the top cardiologist in Midtown NYC, Dr. Michael Ghalchi, please contact our Midtown Manhattan office. For more tips and techniques for preventing heart disease and stroke, make an appointment at NYC Cardiology, Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates.
Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066