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Hearts Need Less Stress

Hearts Need Less Stress

Debbie Blank / The Herald Tribune

April 27, 2009

Batesville, Ind. – “We had a lot of people in this area die of heart disease recently. They never got that second chance,” reported Barb Luff, Margaret Mary Community Hospital cardiac rehab coordinator.

That got the attention of close to 40 Batesville employees during a wellness meeting March 31.

About half of people who have cardiac arrest die before they can be transported to the hospital. Luff cautioned, “Fifty percent of us are going to die of heart disease” if changes aren’t made. Amazingly, heart ailments cause twice the number of deaths than all cancers combined.

She spoke of eight heart disease risk factors. Persons can lessen some of these:

Genes, which “you can’t do anything about.” If a father had a heart attack before 55 or a mother before 65, “you’re at very high risk.”

High blood pressure. “Anything over 120/80 we consider prehypertension. 140/90 is high blood pressure.” She encouraged listeners to have it checked a couple times a year.

High cholesterol. Persons should be concerned if the total is over 200. For persons with heart disease, “you better for sure be below 200.” Diet and exercise can improve cholesterol levels. If those fail, drugs called statins “are saving a lot of lives.”

Smoking. “You are putting yourself at risk,” Luff said frankly. “You know that.” The registered nurse explained, “When you take in nicotine, it affects the lining of your arteries. Every time you take a cigarette and inhale, you are constricting those arteries that now have plaque on them.” MMCH has smoking cessation classes. Smokers should talk to their doctors. “There are so many medications out there” that make quitting easier. Luff encouraged Mayor Rick Fledderman to prohibit smoking in public places.

Overweight. To calculate body mass index, multiply weight by 705, divide by height in inches, then divide it again by height. If over 25, the person is overweight; if over 30, obese. An easier measure: A woman with a waist size over 35 inches or a man with 40 inches or more is at risk.

Diabetes. If the illness runs in the family, “you better be taking precautions,” she warned. The blood sugar number should be under 100. “There’s a direct correlation between diabetes and heart disease.”

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