In South Louisiana, you’ll find that people are passionate about a lot. Down here, there is a pervasive love of music, football, good company, and food. With Mardi Gras just around the corner, king cake officially becomes part of the Louisiana food pyramid, with crawfish gearing up to take its spot as well. Music festivals and parades will soon begin dotting calendars and long hot days mean spending weekends outdoors in the Sportsman’s Paradise. The passion of Louisiana is what has led its citizens to be considered among the happiest in the nation. Still, there is room for improvement.
With food, daiquiris, and a good time comes some problems that are decidedly less joyous. Currently, our fine state is ranked 5th highest in the nation for cardiovascular-related deaths, with heart disease being our number one killer. Despite these alarming facts, very few give much consideration to heart disease, their own risk factors, and the measures needed to aid in prevention.
Here are three major factors that can help you determine your own level of risk:
Medical History and Heart Disease
This one seems pretty obvious, but it is also critically important. Health factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes all have a direct correlation to a patient’s likelihood of developing heart disease. If you suffer from any of these, your cardiovascular risk should be top of mind. Your physician can help you get these factors under control through lifestyle changes and medication.
Health Habits and Heart Disease
Hand-in-hand with medical history goes health habits. While genetics certainly can and do play a role, most of the aforementioned conditions are also impacted by your own choices. This can include what food you eat, how frequently you exercise, and whether or not you smoke. In fact, smokers have a risk of coronary heart disease that is 2 – 4 times higher than that of a nonsmoker. Kicking the habit for good is one of the best steps you can take to protect your heart.
Contact your physician or Louisiana cardiologist, and ask him about the appropriate resources to help you start living a healthier life. And if smoking is a hurdle, consider a program such as the Commit to Quit program at CIS that includes comprehensive resources and specialists to support you in the process.
Family History and Heart Disease
There’s a lot you can learn about yourself from studying your closest family members. Maybe you have similar statures, hair, or eye color. Even your health histories may resemble one another. There are many health conditions which commonly run throughout families. If an immediate family member suffers from diabetes or breast cancer, for instance, there is a higher than normal likelihood that you will as well. The same holds true for heart disease. One of the best indicators of your future health is to look at the past health of your loved ones. If such problems are prevalent, vigilance regarding your own health is a necessity to keep your risk as low as possible.
Understanding these three factors for heart disease can help you better understand and address your own risk. There are many things that Louisiana should be known for, but a high rate of cardiovascular disease is not one of them. So, what do you say, Louisiana? Let’s get just as passionate about heart care as we are about Mardi Gras, and we’ll be beating these numbers in no time.