February is Heart Disease Awareness month the number one killer of South Dakotans and all Americans. Nancy Naeve Brown talked to a cardiologist at the Avera Heart Hospital say we all need to know our numbers to know if we are at risk for heart attack and stroke.
At a young age we are taught the importance of knowing certain numbers; our home address, mom and dad's phone numbers and our birthday. As we age, cardiologists at the Avera Heart Hospital say it's also important for your health to know some other numbers.
Cardiologist Dr. Mark Gordon at North Central Heart says, "Blood pressure and cholesterol are both risk factors for coronary disease just like smoking, diabetes, family history. If you have elevations of blood pressure or your cholesterol numbers aren't where they should be it greatly increases your risk for cardiovascular disease both heart attack and stroke."
Dr. Gordon says your blood pressure should be 120 over 80 or lower if the diastolic or bottom number gets over 85 you should see your doctor. You should get your blood pressure checked a couple time a month, unless you are consistently at a good level, then you can go every 3 months.
Your total cholesterol should be less than 200. When you break that down your triglycerides should be less than 150. You should get that checked a minimum of once a year.
Your HDL (good cholesterol) in women should be greater than 50, in men greater than 40.
Your LDL (bad cholesterol) should be less than 100 if you have no known heart disease. Less than 70 if you do have known heart disease.
Dr. Gordon says, "Exercise works well to increase your HDL and does to some degree lower LDL, but diet probably plays a greater role in reducing LDL cholesterol."
Obesity and belly fat are also proven to be risk factors for heart disease.
Dr. Gordon says your body mass index or BMI should be less than 25. Waist size for women should be 35" or less, for men 40" or less.
If you go through the Planet Heart screening at the Avera Heart Hospital all these numbers will be checked, plus you'll get you're calcium score after a CT scan.
Dr. Gordon says, "Calcium score is what tells us the amount of calcium in the walls of the arteries in the heart. A score of 0 means there is a very low likelihood of having any cardiovascular events. If anything other than 0 means plaque in the arteries and the severity of which we can't tell from the planet heart screening but it might mean you need additional testing."
So know your numbers, know where you stand and know where to go, God forbid, your heart fails.
Avera Heart Hospital screens Monday-Saturday a variety of times. It is $50 for Heart and $50 for vascular screening or $75 for both together (this offer is in Sioux Falls and Yankton). They can register by calling 1-877-At-Avera. The Planet Heart-cardiac screenings are available in Sioux Falls, Yankton, Marshall, MN and Spencer, IA.