Viet Le, PA-C, an adjunct faculty member at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP), works as a Cardiology Clinical Research Scientist/PA at Intermountain Healthcare and shares information on heart disease and keeping our hearts healthy and living healthy.
Screening for Heart Disease
By age 40, both men and women should, in the very least, have their cholesterol (lipids) and blood pressure measured. Guidelines differ for evaluation prior to age 40, however, it would be reasonable to consider at least one assessment before the age of 20, and again at intervals of three to five years until the age of 40. Those two measurements are important metrics to help us understand the risk of heart disease.
The 2018 updated guidelines for lipid management/cholesterol management recommend we should have a calculated 10-year heart risk score completed. This takes into consideration age, gender, ethnicity, blood pressure, cholesterol, if you smoke, have diabetes, and/or on medication for blood pressure, etc. The combined score provides an estimate of risk for having a cardiovascular event: stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease (losing a limb from blockage) over the next 10 years.
If you cross the threshold of 7.5% in a 10-year period, then healthcare providers typically recommend you lower lipids with medication. Whether or not you’re at risk, being physically active and watching your diet improves your quality of life.
Living Healthy and Improving Quality of Life
We often think of physical activity as drudge work in order to maintain health. While it’s important to get the heart rate up and get the body moving, you should have fun doing it. Do things that you enjoy doing, that move your body: dance, take your dog(s) for a walk, walk with your significant other, family, or friends.
Making behavior changes is hard. We eat the way we do because it’s a habit. We make choices that are the most convenient or easy. So we should ask ourselves, how do I make healthy choices easier to add to my day?
Research shows that one out of every three deaths is caused by heart disease in both men and women. And researchers believe that 70 to 80% of those deaths could have been prevented or delayed with healthier lifestyle choices. There are many things we can do to reduce the risk of having heart disease and those same things also improve the quality of life.
Listen to the full RMUpload podcast episode here.