St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, in partnership with the American Heart Association, is encouraging everyone to Wear Red today, February 6, 2015 to raise awareness of the number 1 killer of women, heart disease.
In Maine, more than 1 of every 4 deaths is from heart disease or stroke. Don’t become a statistic. Take charge of your health! One key to heart health is to know some very important numbers: your blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI. Ideally, here’s where they should be (for non-diabetics):
- Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower
- HDL (“good” cholesterol) of 50 mg/dL or higher for women and 40 mg/dL or higher for men
- LDL (“bad” cholesterol) of 100 or lower
- Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.
- Your BMI, or Body Mass Index, is based on your height and weight. If it is greater than 25 you are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. There are many BMI calculators available online such as http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
“Most of the time, you will not feel the symptoms of high blood pressure or high cholesterol,” said Dr. Roy Ulin a cardiologist at Maine Medical Partners MaineHealth Cardiology and partner of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. “The only way to know for sure if you’re at risk is to know your numbers and take action to fix it.” Ask your primary care provider how your numbers compare.
Dr. Ulin said one of the best things you can do for your heart is to exercise. “You don’t have to run a 10K or take a Zumba class, but you do need to move and increase your heart rate. Ten minutes of brisk walking three times a day can go a long way towards improving your heart health.”
For all the good things you do to keep heart healthy it is important to also avoid the habits that can hurt your health. “Smoking damages your heart and blood vessels, making you two to four times more likely to have heart disease, a heart attack, and/or stroke.” said Dr. Ulin. “Women who are on birth control pills are at even greater risk. But, if you quit, within three to five years, your risk of heart disease decreases to the level of a non-smoker regardless of how long you’ve been smoking.”
You do what you can to protect your loved ones and to keep them healthy. This year, do something for YOU. Changes you make now can have a positive effect for a lifetime.