Doc Talk: Valentine's Heart Health

Doc Talk: Valentine's Heart Health.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate your sweetheart, but Thursday could be a day to check your own heart health.

This edition of Doc Talk, Erica Mokay talked about why a healthy lifestyle is key to avoiding heart failure.

There is no cure for heart failure and health officials say about half of those who are diagnosed die within 5 years, which is why Borgess health officials are so focused on talking to patients about prevention.

More than 6 million people in the United States are living with heart failure and the American Heart Association says that number includes all ages.

Borgess Heart Failure Program Director Lisa Hostetler said, “In my career as a nurse I have seen, even in the past 20 years, we are doing cardiac procedures on people who are in their 30s and 40s.”

Borgess health officials say the number of patients is getting higher and the age of diagnosis is getting lower, in part, because people aren't exercising, not watching their diet and they're not setting a good example for the younger generation.

Registered Dietitian Jill Simmons said, “If you’re using the salt shaker religiously on the table, every day, then they're more likely to feel they have to do the same. So really watching those added sugars, added sodium. Getting as many low sodium foods in your pantry as you can.”

They say those poor choices can lead to high blood pressure, one of the leading causes of heart failure.

1 in 3 American adults have hypertension and many don't even realize it, which is why specialists say getting your blood pressure checked often is a good thing.

Hostetler said, “The earlier we find something, the easier it is to treat it and then prevent that chronic disease from actually getting worse.”

Hostetler says hypertension is dangerous, but at the same time, very easy to treat with lifestyle changes or medication.

She said, “There’s more effort now to keep blood pressure within a normal range to prevent heart failure... And not just heart failure but chronic disease in general.”

Hostetler says, and dietitians agree, awareness and preventative measures need to start sooner rather than later.

Simmons said, “As we see more and more prevalence of the cardio vascular issues, I think it’s a good point to make that prevention starts when you’re born.”

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