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Knowledge is Key in Preventing, Surviving Heart Disease

Unfortunately, many Americans don’t know if they are at risk for heart disease. To help individuals understand their risks, Griffin Hospital will a free, open forum Tuesday, Feb. 26.

When it comes to recognizing and preventing heart disease - knowledge is power. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t know if they are at risk for heart disease or the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Research has shown that high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), roughly half of Americans have at least one of these key risk factors. In addition, diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use can also put a person at a higher risk for heart disease.

Over the past decade, there have been significant heart health improvements in children and adults with decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking rates, but most Americans have been unable or unwilling to make the needed lifestyle changes to help protect them from heart disease, especially with reaching a healthy body mass index.

When it comes to a heart attack, early action is key. Yet, a survey by the CDC shows that only a fraction of Americans know the major signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

Get the Information You Need

In recognition of American Heart Awareness Month, Griffin Hospital will host “Heart-to-Heart,” a free, open forum with Cardiologist Martin Plavec, MD, and Griffin Hospital’s Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation Eunice Lisk, MS, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the hospital’s Meditation/Learning Center at 130 Division Street in Derby.

These two heart experts will provide easy-to-understand information about warning signs for heart problems and what you can do to help prevent them. They will also discuss common heart issues, like Congestive Heart Failure and high blood pressure, how to get tested for heart disease, and discuss the benefits and risks of treatment options.

Sobering Statistics

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable with the benefit of knowledge.

According to the American Heart Association:

  • An estimated 155 million U.S. adults (roughly 68%) are overweight or obese and therefore are at risk for heart disease. Among children, 32% are overweight and obese (24 million children) and 17% are obese (13 million children).
  • Only 21% of adults meet the federal guidelines for physical activity. Among 9 through 12 graders, only 28% meet the recommendations.
  • Less than 1% of U.S. adults meet the definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet,” essentially no children meet the goal. Of the 5 components of a healthy diet, reducing sodium and increasing whole grains are the biggest challenges.
  • An estimated 32 million adults (or 14 percent of the population) have total serum cholesterol levels higher than 240 mg/dL, putting them at high risk for heart disease.
  • An estimated 78 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure. About 82% are aware of their condition and 75% are using antihypertensive medication, but only 53% of those have their condition controlled.
  • An estimated 20 million adults have physician-diagnosed diabetes. An additional 8 million adults have undiagnosed diabetes and about 87 million adults have prediabetes.

The dangers of heart disease become even greater when considering that most Americans do not the signs of a heart attack. A CDC survey found that 92% of respondents recognized chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack, but only 27% were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack. The survey’s findings are supported by the fact that roughly 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital, suggesting that many people with heart disease don't act on early warning signs.

The major warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack are:

•Chest pain or discomfort.

•Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.

•Shortness of breath.

•Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.

To find out more about heart disease and ways to prevent and protect yourself or if you have questions about your risk, come to “Heart-to-Heart” on Feb. 26. To register or for more information, call 203.732.1511 or visit griffinhealth.org.

About Tuesday Talks

Heart-to-Heart is part of Griffin Hospital's Healthy U “Tuesday Talks,” a series of free wellness talks featuring Griffin Hospital medical experts and community partners providing trusted health information and answers to questions on a wide range of topics.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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