We may love others with ‘all our heart’, but do we love our own by recognizing the importance of heart health? In early February, PinnacleHealth encouraged men and women to do just that by participating in yoga, Zumba and by having a Q&A session with medical experts. Everything from heart disease risks and prevention to the latest in cardiovascular treatments was addressed. 

In case you couldn’t join us or if you have questions of your own, below is a recap of those stats, facts and ways you can be proactive in making sure you keep heart disease away. You may be surprised how the “little things” can make a big difference in maintaining or regaining your health.

Did You Know?

  • 80% of heart disease is preventable in the US
  • Heart disease is the #1 killer in the US for men and women.
  • Heart disease claims over 17.3 million lives/year
  • Heart attack symptoms are different in men and women

Do You Know Your Numbers?

It’s important to know your numbers. Other than a family history of cardiovascular disease, having three or more of the following can increase your risks: 

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Waist circumference: 
    • Men > 102cm or 40 inches
    • Women > 88cm or 35 inches 
  • Triglycerides > 150 mg/dl or drug treatment 
  • HDL (total cholesterol level)
    • Men <40 mg/dl 
    • Women <50 mg/dl
  • Blood Pressure 
    • >130/85 mmHg
  • Blood Glucose 
    • >100 mg/dl or drug treatment 

Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease and a condition that can be controlled with lifestyle changes. More than one-third (about 35%) of U.S. adults are obese (more than 78 million adults) and almost 13 million (16.9%) of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 are obese. Nearly one in three (31.8%) U.S. children (23.9 million) ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. Additionally, with more children using electronic devices and spending their time sedentary, less physical activity and play is happening, which contributes to the problem.

Good health is within our reach and critical in every aspect of your life, yet only about 1-2% of the population in the US meets the health parameters recommended to live your best life. Aim to love your heart in the following seven ways and along with regular visits to your primary care provider, you can avoid becoming a statistic.

7 Ways Embedded

Physical Activity:

  • The heart is a muscle and like other muscles it benefits from exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, which can be done in shorter intervals and broken up over the day. Make sure you check with your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you have a medical issue or symptoms that could interfere with exercise. 

    • A gym membership is not required, either. Simply walking each day is a great place to start! The benefits of exercise are broad and include: 

      • An increase in muscle strength
      • Decrease in bone loss
      • It improves coordination and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease
      • Reduces risk of death, heart attack and future procedures according to the Center for Disease Control 
      • Reduces the need for testing- saving money 

Heart Healthy Eating:

  • How do you improve your diet? It’s about what you should be eating more and less in your day. Eating plant based foods and following a Mediterranean diet has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease. 

    • Control your portion size
    • Increase serving size of fruits, vegetables, and select whole grains
    • Avoid solid fats by eliminating butter (use olive oil or add some avocado)
    • Reduce your red meat consumption and eat lean meat (80% fat or less and trim the fat)


Control Your Blood Cholesterol Level 


7 Ways

                                                                      Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Monitor Your Blood Pressure:

  • The heart works harder when it needs to pump blood in vessels with high Blood Pressure as a result of stiff arteries. Reduce your risk of heart attack or failure by doing the following:

    • Limit your stress levels 
    • Limit alcohol and caffeine
    • Lower your salt intake 
    • DASH-Dietary Adjustments to Stop Hypertension  
      • Lowering your sodium intake from the standard 3,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day or even 1500mg/day 

Stop Smoking:

  • There is nothing positive about inhaling carcinogens into your lungs. When you stop smoking, the benefits are immediate – from regaining your taste buds to reducing cough and the years of damage. For information on how you can quit smoking, visit PinnacleHealth.org to learn about our smoking cessation program. 

    • After one year of not smoking, your risk of smoke-related heart attacks will be reduced by half. 
    • In the 10-15 years after you quit smoking, the likelihood of dying from heart disease will be the same as someone who never smoked.

Control your blood sugar levels 

  • Normal fasting blood sugar is < 100 mg/dl and a non-fasting level of <140 mg/dl
  • Avoid excess sugar, maintain a proper healthy weight
  • Lack of sleep? increases stress hormones? elevates BP? increases blood sugar levels? increases risk of heart disease 

Control/Maintain your weight:

  • Talk with your doctor if you need to lose a significant amount of weight so that he or she helps to create a plan that is right for you. If you only need to shed a few pounds or simply maintain a healthy weight, try to get 10,000 steps in each day. The more you move, the better your overall health. A nutritious diet and regular physical activity are the cornerstones to good health and affects our mind, body and soul. 

    • Prevention and early detection are the first line of defense when it comes to your heart health. The PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute offers several vascular screenings, including carotid artery, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), and ankle brachial index (ABI), to help identify disease. Each look for either plaque build-up in the artery walls or blockage, which could contribute to a stroke, aneurysm or blockage in the legs. Who should consider a vascular screening? If you answer ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you should consider vascular screening:
      • 45 years of age or older
      • Family history of heart disease, vascular disease, stroke or aneurysm
      • High cholesterol levels (or taking medication to control cholesterol)
      • High blood pressure (or taking medication to control blood pressure)
      • Have diabetes
      • Have had a stroke
      • Current or former smoker
      • Obese
      • Exercise less than 30 minutes per day

Screenings are available individually for $30/each, or $100 for all three and blood pressure and cardiac rhythm strip for atrial fibrillation. Please call us at (717) 441-0580 to schedule your vascular screening.

  • Upcoming dates for vascular screenings are:
    • Saturday, February 18
    • Saturday, March 11
    • Saturday, April 29

If you have an intermediate risk for heart disease but have no obvious symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend a Coronary Calcium Screening (CCS). This is a five-minute test that uses computed tomography (CT) imaging technology to detect buildup of calcium and plaque in the walls of the arteries in your heart. A physician prescription and fee of $150 are required for this screening. A sample prescription to take to your doctor, as well as criteria to see if you may want to consider a coronary calcium score screening, is available on our web site at: pinnaclehealth.org/ccs.