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From the School Nurse Desk:

 

 Many times we get so caught up in our lives; taking care of our children, husband, wife and job that we ignore signals of signs and symptoms that our body could be sending us regarding our heart health.  An example are symptoms of high blood pressure which include headaches, blurred vision, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness and nosebleeds.  Uncontrolled blood pressure, combined with high cholesterol and family history might lead to a heart attack if you do not take medications and try to control some of the risk factors that can lead to a major heart event in your live.

Some risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, and some can’t.  According to the American Heart Association, these are the leading factors that put you at risk for coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

 

Major Risk Factors that cannot be changed:

  1. Age: More than 83% of people who die from coronary heart disease are 65 or older.  Older women are more likely to die of heart attacks within a few weeks of the attack than older men.
  2. Being male:  Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life.  Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, it’s not as great as men’s.
  3. Family history:  Those with parents or close relatives with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.
  4. Race:  Heart disease risk is higher among Mexican Americans, African Americans, American Indians compared to Caucasians.

Major Risk Factors you can modify, treat or control by changing your lifestyle or taking medicines:

  1. Smoking:  Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease by two to four times.  Stop Smoking—Risk is cut in half one year without smoking and continues to drop until it is as low as a non-smoker.
  2. High Cholesterol:  As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.  Levels for cholesterol should be less than 200. Limit intake of fat, sugar, sodium/salt and chose more whole grains, fresh produce, low fat dairy products and lean meat, poultry and fish.
  3. High Blood Pressure:  High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer.  It also increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure.  When high blood pressure exists with obesity, smoking, high blood cholesterol levels or diabetes, the risk of heart attack or stroke increases several timesTake all medications as prescribed.
  4. Sedentary Lifestyle:  Inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart diseaseBecome physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  5. Excess weight:  People who have excess body fat—especially if a lot of it is at the waist—are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke even if they have no other risk factors.  Lose weight and practice portion control.
  6. Diabetes:  Having diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  About three-quarters of people with diabetes die from some form of heart or blood vessel disease.  Control blood sugars and take all medications as prescribed.

 

 

Remember:  Try to control the risk factors you can and reduce your chances of developing heart problems now and in the future