Celebrate National Heart Month

January brought biting cold and heavy snowfalls to much of the country. February brings with it the start of longer days, a little more sunshine and the holiday of love-Valentine’s Day!  It is fitting then that February is also National Heart Month.  It is a great time to start taking steps to keep your heart in tip top shape not only for you, but also for those you love.
In addition to regular visits to your Hematologist or HTC, visits should be scheduled with your General Practitioner to have routine cardiovascular screenings done.  The chart below summarizes how often each of these screenings should take place:

Routine Checkups 18-29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50-64 years 65+ years
Includes personal history;  body mass index (BMI); physical exam; preventive screening; and counseling discuss smoking, physical activity & diet Annually for
ages 18-21 then at discretion of provider
    Annually Annually
  Every 1-3      on risk years dependingfactors.
Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Each regular healthcare visit or at least once every 2 years if blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg
Cholesterol Every 5 years or more often at discretion of clinician
Blood Glucose Test Every 3 years starting at age 45

*Chart adapted from: www.bluecrossma.com
Catching heart disease in its earliest stages will provide the best opportunity for change and a healthy outcome.  Knowing what the risk factors are and how to modify the ones we can control provides us with the greatest opportunity to prevent heart disease or to slow or stop its progression.

Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors

Major Risk Factors That Can’t Be Changed

  • Increasing Age: About 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older.
  • Male Sex (Gender): Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do, and they have attacks earlier in life.
  • Heredity (Including Race): Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves.

Major Risk Factors That Can Be Modified, Treated or Controlled

  • Tobacco Smoke: Smokers’ risk of developing coronary heart disease is 2-4 times that of nonsmokers.
  • High Blood Cholesterol: As blood cholesterol rises, so does risk of coronary heart disease.
  • High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart to thicken and become stiffer.
  • Physical Inactivity: An inactive lifestyle is a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  • Obesity and Overweight: People who have excess body fat – especially if a lot of it is at the waist – are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes seriously increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Other Factors That Increase Cardiovascular Risk

  • Stress: Individual response to stress may be a contributing factor.
  • Alcohol: If you drink, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.
  • Diet and Nutrition: A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you have to fight cardiovascular disease.

Reference: The American Heart Association   http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

It is not uncommon for individuals with hemophilia to also develop cardiovascular disease later in life.  Limited mobility and an improper diet can be cause for individuals to develop high blood pressure. Meet with your medical provider to have regular screenings, take the time to educate yourself to your risk factors and consider making changes to the ones you have control over.  For information and ideas about diet and exercise HFA’s FitFactor program can help. Do it for yourself and the ones you love!
While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content of each FitFactor post, these entries are not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.