Saturday, December 16, 2017
Opinion

Focus on your heart health in February

Check the calendar. This week, we celebrated Valentine's Day. Monday gives us Presidents Day. Then Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. A week later, and it's Leap Day, coming exactly 27 days after Groundhog Day.

Almost everything seems to have a have a day or a week assigned to it so people are reminded of the importance of prevention, preservation, promotion or perseverance, depending on the cause.

But the heart has a whole month. February is American Heart Month, and public awareness campaigns seem to be working. Deaths from heart attacks and strokes have gone down over the past decade. The prevalence of obesity seems to be leveling off. People seem to be doing better with smoking.

However, the numbers remain staggering. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, both for men and women, and is responsible for about 17 percent of national health expenditure. Smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths in the U.S.

Every 39 seconds, an American will die of cardiovascular disease. Approximately every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event. On average, every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke, resulting in tremendous loss of productivity with enormous disability and discomfort, according to statistics from the American Heart Association.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's heart truth campaign, focusing on heart disease as the No. 1 killer of women, is 10 years old and has managed to increase awareness.

One in four women in the United States die of heart disease while one in 30 die of breast cancer. Actually, more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined.

But by leading a healthy lifestyle, the risk of heart disease can be reduced by up to 82 percent.

All six major cardiovascular risk factors are preventable — smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and inactivity. Other risk factors include depression, stress and pollution. Age, gender and heredity are the only risk factors that cannot be altered, naturally.

When a person puts his or her heart at risk, the organ is liable to retaliate and attack its owner, resulting in heart attack and death.

Primary prevention is the key to reducing the personal and social burden of cardiovascular disease. Social behavior is the door and the human mind is the keyhole. Preventing cardiovascular disease needs to begin at an early age.

The American Heart Association has a campaign that talks about "Life's Simple 7," the seven simple steps to reduce death and disability from cardiovascular disease (visit mylifecheck.heart.org).

They are: stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, get active, eat better, control cholesterol, manage blood pressure and control blood sugar.

It's election time, so maybe we need catchy phrases to deliver the message: Live and learn; learn to live. Stop heart disease before it starts. Know your numbers to live longer and stronger. Take the measures to enjoy life's pleasures.

And, since it's only February, the second month of the year, how about: Not too late to make a new life resolution.

Dr. Rao Musunuru is a practicing cardiologist in Hudson. He is a member of National Leadership Committee of Clinical Cardiology Council of the American Heart Association and a past member of the advisory council for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17