Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the U.S., killing about 600,000 people every year. This umbrella term covers many types of heart conditions, including coronary heart disease which includes artery blockages, heart failure which occurs due to uncontrolled high blood pressure, a heart attack or a faulty heart valve, and arrhythmia, which is an abnormal heart rhythm due to problems with the heart’s electrical system.
According to the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, the following are risk factors for both heart disease and stroke:
- High blood pressure, typically 140/90 mmHg or higher; 130/80 mmHg or higher if you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease
- High cholesterol
- Diabetes and pre-diabetes
- Smoking, including being exposed to secondhand smoke
- Being overweight or obese, with a body mass index or BMI of 25 or more
Check this calculation of your height/weight ratio at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
- Sedentary behavior
- A family history of early heart disease
- A history of preeclampsia during pregnancy
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Age (typically 55 or older for women, younger for men)
At the Y, we are here to help you live a healthier life. Even if you have several of these risk factors, there are ways that you can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Find 6 Heart-Healthy Lifestyles Tips on our blog.
Plus, we offer a variety of fitness classes to get you started on the path to wellness, including the Beginner Fitness Program (or B. Fit Program) for those needing to develop good exercise behaviors. B. Fit provides structure and accountability, and helps individuals learn how to overcome the personal barriers that are preventing them from exercising regularly.
Wendy Porr is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, working for a large cardiology practice in New Jersey. She has more than 20 years of experience working in the area of cardiac health in both hospital and office settings. Wendy also teaches Spin, Barre and Pound exercise classes at Somerset Hills YMCA.