Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - 21

"Genetics certainly is part of what
puts you at risk for heart disease," says
Martha Gulati, MD, a cardiologist and
the editor-in-chief of the American
College of Cardiology's patient education and empowerment initiative,
CardioSmart.org. "And there's not one
unique marker. There are 50 or so that
seem to be the strongest indicators of
heart disease. We have probably not
even identified them all yet."
Having some of those genetic markers makes it more likely for someone
to have high cholesterol; other markers
increase a person's risk of high blood
pressure, diabetes or obesity. All of
them increase your risk for heart disease
to some degree.
Heart disease also tends to run in
families because of shared lifestyle habits. In other words, if your parents ate a
high-sodium, high-fat, high-sugar diet,
you're more likely to eat the same.
"The foods that were cooked for
you, the emphasis on physical activity-
there's more to familial heart disease
than just your genetics," Gulati says.
There's also more to heart disease
risk than just family history.

FITNESS OVER
FAMILY HISTORY

Just because your family history puts
you at greater risk for heart disease
doesn't mean you'll develop it. In fact,
a recent study published in the New
England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)
showed that lifestyle factors can overrule heredity. The study found that
making even a relatively modest effort
to live healthfully can cut your risk for
heart disease by up to 50 percent.
The study looked at four factors and
their effect on heart disease risk: not
smoking, maintaining a body mass
index (BMI) of less than 30, getting
regular physical activity and eating a
healthy diet.
"The study showed even people with
the highest genetic risk could cut their
risk in half by doing three out of the

four things," says Nisha Jhalani, MD,
the director of the Women's Heart
Health Initiative at the Cardiovascular
Research Foundation. "It supports what
doctors have been telling patients for
years-that you can balance the things
you can't change with healthy behaviors
you can change."
And you don't need to transform your
whole life to benefit.
"When the study authors talked
about healthy lifestyle, the way they
diagnosed it was very liberal," Gulati
says. "Risk was reduced with weekly
physical activity, a general healthy eating pattern, not smoking and not being
obese. Being overweight [having a BMI
between 25 and 29.9] was OK."

OTHER WAYS TO
REDUCE RISK

While the NEJM study didn't look at
the following factors, research suggests
they, too, are beneficial in reducing risk
of heart disease:
Get enough sleep. Poor-quality sleep
increases blood pressure, an important
risk factor for heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Aim for six to eight hours per night of
quality sleep.
Manage diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes damages blood vessels, making you
more susceptible to heart disease. You're
also more likely to have a heart attack
without realizing it, as diabetes can
damage nerves that signal pain. Keep
your blood glucose levels under control.
Ask about medication. If diet
and exercise aren't enough to reduce
your blood pressure or cholesterol,
talk to your doctor about prescribing medication.
Reduce stress. Stress doesn't directly
cause heart disease, but it can increase
the likelihood you'll engage in other
risk factors such as smoking, drinking,
overeating and being inactive. Learn to
alleviate stress in healthy ways, such
as deep breathing, exercising or simply
taking time to relax. ■

DECREASING
YOUR HEART
DISEASE RISK
There are plenty of ways to reduce
your risk for heart disease. A healthy
lifestyle-one involving regular exercise, avoiding cigarettes, healthy
eating habits and stress management-can slow the development of
heart disease and significantly reduce
your risk.
Cardiology specialists at the
hospitals of Community Healthcare
System-Community Hospital in
Munster, St. Mary Medical Center in
Hobart and St. Catherine Hospital in
East Chicago-suggest that individuals
take advantage of the many programs
designed to educate patients who
may be at risk for heart disease.
In addition to free or low-cost
coronary screenings, the hospitals
of Community Healthcare System
offer nutrition counseling, smoking
cessation classes, blood pressure
checks and exercise programs to fit
the multifaceted needs of patients.
Credentialed staff members
committed to helping you make
the changes necessary for living
a longer, healthier life lead the
programs and screenings.

CALL

Check Our
Calendar
Our Take Care calendar (mailed
with this issue) features screenings, blood pressure checks and
other programs to help identify
your heart disease risk. For times
and dates, call 219-836-3477.

FALL 2017

21


http://www.CardioSmart.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2017 - Community Healthcare - Contents
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