Heart disease affects one in 4; could you be one of them?

Dr. McElroyYou may realize you should lose a few pounds, quit smoking, exercise more or stop eating so many sweets. But did you know those lifestyle choices put you at real risk for heart disease? And that’s serious business because heart disease is the nation’s leading killer.

Even though heart disease affects 26.6 million Americans, those lives could be improved dramatically if we’d change our habits.

Coronary heart disease occurs when blood vessels to the heart muscle do not function normally. The risk for heart disease can increase when heredity is combined with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cigarettes and eating a poor diet. Other risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol use, high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes.

We can’t change our family history but we can eat healthier, exercise and make good lifestyle choices. Commit to make the following six steps to reform your health:

Weight control

Obesity is on the rise, and so are weight-related health problems. Achieve a healthy weight and maintain it. Additional health risks associated with weight gain include stroke, diabetes and even some cancers.

Exercise daily

Try to exercise 60 minutes every day or walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Walking is easy and inexpensive. All it requires is a pair of shoes and a place to go.

Quit smoking

Smoking is dangerous to your health. A recent report in the American Heart Journal said people smoking three or fewer cigarettes a day had about a 65 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those smoking none. Two-thirds of smokers have tobacco-related diseases.

Limit alcohol

Drink no more than the equivalent of one glass of wine a day.

Eat right

Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Control portion size and focus on fruit and vegetables. The Mediterranean style diet is best.

Heart attack symptoms

If you experience heart attack symptoms, you should call 911. They can begin slowly with mild pain or be sudden or intense. Other symptoms include:

  • Any chest pain (crushing or pressure) lasting 15 minutes or longer
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Baptist Health Paducah was recently named a Cycle IV Chest Pain Center with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) designation by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. The hospital was the region’s first accredited chest pain center in 2008 and has continued to meet high standards for re-accreditation twice since then.

Local chest pain hotline: 1-800-575-1911

For help identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, phone our Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with a local registered nurse.

–        Cardiologist Bradley McElroy, MD

About Baptist Health Paducah

Baptist Health Paducah is a regional medical and referral center, serving about 200,000 patients a year from four states. With more than 1,800 employees and 200 physicians, it offers a full range of services, including cardiac and cancer care, diagnostic imaging, women’s and children’s services, surgery, emergency treatment, rehabilitation and more. Since its humble beginning in 1953, Baptist Health Paducah has grown from 117 beds to 349 beds on a campus covering eight square blocks.
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