Heart smart: Leading cause of death may be a surprise

February has been designated as American Heart Month in an effort to raise awareness and prevention of heart disease. People age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coron...


February has been designated as American Heart Month in an effort to raise awareness

and prevention of heart disease.

People age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease (commonly called heart disease) and heart failure. Heart disease is also a major cause of disability, limiting the activity and eroding the quality of life of millions of older people.

According to the CDC, Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2015 were in men. About 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year-that's 1 in every 4 deaths.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing about 366,000


people in 2015. In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Each

minute, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

Adults age 65 and older are more likely than younger people to suffer from cardiovascular

disease, which is problems with the heart, blood vessels, or both. Aging can cause changes

in the heart and blood vessels that may increase a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Healthy heart tips

Aging does not necessarily mean that our cardiovascular system must be diseased.

Following healthy heart tips can help delay and avoid the issues commonly associated with


aging and heart disease. The earlier you start with these good habits the better!

Heart disease became part of my life almost two years ago when my husband had a heart

attack and ended up with a quadruple bypass.

My husband was 59 and had just swam across a lake three weeks prior. However, it was a lifetime of unhealthy habits that caught up to him. He is an airline pilot who travels 18 days out of most months. He has faced eating out and living out of hotel rooms for the last 20 years and it took a toll on his health. It was evident he needed to make a lifestyle changes once he made it through surgery.

He now has made the several changes needed. He had been somewhat active but not has

made physical activity and eating healthy a priority. He was fortunate enough to make the changes, lost weight, lowered his cholesterol and was back to flying within nine months.

Of course his nagging wife and daughters keep him on track with the healthy choices. It probably helps that I am a diabetes prevention lifestyle coach and trainer.

The message is-it is never too late to make some healthy changes to prevent heart


disease. Take a step today towards preventing heart disease and living a healthy lifestyle.

What Can You Do to Prevent Heart Disease?

There are many steps you can take to keep your heart healthy.

Try to be more physically active.

• Remember-your heart is a muscle. You need to work the muscle and strengthen the heart to make it work more efficiently. Talk with your doctor about the type of activities that would be best for you.

• If possible, aim to get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Every day is best. It doesn't have to be done all at once-10-minute periods will do.

• Start by doing activities you enjoy-brisk walking, dancing, bowling, bicycling, or gardening, for example.

• Avoid spending hours every day sitting. This might be a tough time of year to be active. Maybe check out the SAIL - Stay Active and Independent for Life Class at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Baxter or a SilverSneakers class at the YMCA.


• Maybe consider joining a Crow Wing Energized Matter of Balance class that will introduce you to some basic exercises. All are good for your heart but also good for preventing a fall in this winter season.

• If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Smoking adds to the damage to artery walls. It';s never too late to get some benefit from quitting smoking. Quitting, even in later life, can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer over time.

• Follow a heart-healthy diet. Choose foods that are low in trans and saturated fats, added sugars, and salt. As we get older, we become more sensitive to salt, which can cause swelling in the legs and feet.

• Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber, like those made from whole grains. Get more information on healthy eating by visiting with a dietician or look at joining the Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coaching Program offered through Crow Wing Energized. This program will help you achieve a goal of losing 5-7 percent of your weight and help you find ways to get 150 minutes of activity a week.

• Keep a healthy weight. Balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories burned by being physically active helps to maintain a healthy weight. Some ways you can maintain a healthy weight include limiting portion size and being physically active.

• Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control. Follow your doctor's advice to manage these conditions and take medications as directed.

Sleep and Heart Health

Many people find sleep to be no problem, but some of us can't fall asleep easily, we wake too early, or we sleep too lightly. Ways to improve sleep:


• Limit caffeine intake and stop consuming it by 2 p.m.

• Nap if you feel tired, but limit it to 20 minutes so that it doesn't affect your longer night sleep.

• Keep a regular sleep schedule going to bed and waking the same times every day.

• Don't watch TV or use other electronic devices before bed-or if you do, go to a different room.

• so your bedroom is just for sleeping.

• Early or mid-day exercise, particularly in fresh air, has been shown to improve night time sleep.

• Exercising too close to bedtime can energize you too much.

• The research shows the most correlation between sleep and increased risk of coronary heart disease when people are getting less than 5 hours per night. Ideally, most people should have between 7-8 hours of sleep per night.


So, keep a healthy heart in mind as you sleep, eat, and go about your day. If you can do even some of these things, it will help!

Lifestyle change class starts March 6

Learn how to create a healthier lifestyle and prevent diabetes in a 22-session diabetes prevention program.

Groups meet with a trained instructor to help participants lose weight, eat healthier and increase physical activity. There are 16 sessions offered over six months, and six monthly follow-up

sessions for the remainder of the year. Each session is one-hour long. The National Diabetes Prevention Program is a community-based, lifestyle change program that offers diabetes prevention education and support for people with prediabetes.

Prediabetes involves blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diabetes. An individual with prediabetes can delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes.

Diet and moderate exercise resulting in a 5-7 percent weight loss (usually about 10 - 15 pounds) often work to bring blood sugar levels back down to a healthy range. There is no fee for this class ($429 value). 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays starting March 6 at Essentia Health St. Joseph's-Brainerd Clinic.

Questions? Contact Kara Schaefer at 218-454-5901 or email: .

Go to to register online.

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