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Published on February 06, 2013

Cardiac Risk

Laurie McKee, RN
Avera Sacred Heart Hospital ICU/Cardiac Services

Most people already know that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States. Most of us already know many of the main causes of heart disease – obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heredity, etc. So, the question is, what are we going to do about it?

Knowledge is your best weapon against any type of disease or illness. It’s important to know your risk factors. Do you have a family history of heart disease including heart problems, high blood pressure or high cholesterol? Many of these risk factors are hereditary. The Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Planet Heart Cardiovascular Screening Program can also help you gain insight to your cardiovascular risk factors.

Once you’ve obtained that information, discuss these issues with your physician or health care provider. Perhaps this is during a physical or other visit to your doctor. Your physician can help guide you in the right direction toward your heart health awareness.

It’s important to get an early start on this “heart health awareness.” Many times, disaster can be averted well ahead of time through simple lifestyle changes – a little less fat in the diet, a little more exercise, cutting out the smoking and the exposure to second-hand smoke and working on ways to reduce stress. As I said earlier – we know the culprits – it’s taking control of them before they take control of us that makes all the difference.

Lowering that cholesterol before it blocks the arteries can save you from requiring by-pass surgery down the road.

Lowering your stress levels and regular exercise can reduce your blood pressure.

Some of these changes are easy for many people and some can be very difficult. The value shouldn’t necessarily be seen as an immediate benefit (although you will notice a difference right away with many), but more as a long-term investment in your own health. In my almost 30 years of nursing, many of which have been in critical care, I have yet to meet a person who enjoyed having heart problems. Many have expressed they regret not making changes earlier in their lives, others wish they had just known they were at risk in the first place. Gaining that knowledge is critical.

You can take a step in the right direction by attending Avera Sacred Heart Hospital’s “Heart and Soul” event. Spend a fun-filled night celebrating heart health and joining our “Mission: Nutrition” interactive show. Avera Sacred Heart Hospital’s annual Heart & Soul event will take place from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, February 7, at the hospital’s Professional Office Pavilion and Education Center. Enjoy food and wine, stress-melting massages, nutrition education and some quality time with friends. Space is limited, so please register for your healthy night out by calling 605-668-8080, or stop by Avera Sacred Heart Hospital’s Information Desk located at 501 Summit St. in Yankton.