Look Beyond the Numbers – Heart Disease Prevention
Every time you go in to see the doctor, they inundate you with numbers-- cholesterol, blood pressure, etc etc. Now, though, numbers aren't the most important thing to pay attention to when it comes to prevention.
According to the Banner Health CardioVascular Institute and the American Heart Association, there are four main areas of focus that can help with prevention. These guidelines were provided by Dr. Randall Marsh and Dr. Jason Hatch.
1. Risk assessment
A risk assessment allows health care providers to estimate risks for heart disease based on varying factors and allows them to identify warning signs like coronary death, nonfatal myocardial infractions, or signs of stroke.
Certain lifestyle changes are able to prevent heart disease such as including 30 to 40 minutes of exercise three to four days a week into your routine. Eating healthier foods as well as decreasing salt intake can help, but Dr. Hatch says you're allowed to indulge in cravings every now and again:
“So long as Americans make healthy decisions the great majority of the time and stay mindful of the big picture, they can build cardiovascular health that’s muscular enough to handle the rest.”
Obtaining a healthy weight based on your body-mass index is the most important part of keeping trim. Dr. Hatch says "moderation is really the key" and exercise doesn't need to be extreme to be beneficial.
4. Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
Dr. Marsh says that focusing on drug treatment using statins is based on several factors, but that the "bad cholesterol" number is no longer the main factor in guiding treatment.
“Statin treatment for the prevention of a cardiovascular event is a big emphasis of the new guidelines. People have heard of side effects associated with the use of statins, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. A bigger risk could be under-treatment based on a patients’ fear of the side effects.”