Cardiovascular disease is a diverse grouping of medical issues that impact the heart, veins, arteries, and roughly anything to do with the flow of blood. It remains the leading cause of death in the United States for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups.
Nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure (hypertension) and only a quarter have their blood pressure under control. High blood pressure isn’t just a bad number. Hypertension has detrimental implications to your health over time, such as increased risk of a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and many other conditions that can decrease your quality of life and potentially shorten it too.
Those with co-morbidities or lifestyle choices such as diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol use, or physical inactivity have a substantially increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Signs of cardiovascular disease can often be silent, meaning you don’t have any symptoms until a major and potentially life-threatening event such as a heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, or a respiratory emergency. On top of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you should meet with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) at least once annually or as directed.
How can you decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease? The most impactful thing you can do is maintain a conscientious lifestyle. Limit your consumption of foods that are high in saturated or trans fats. Limit your salt and sugar intake, especially in sugary drinks such as sodas, juices, sport drinks, sweet teas, and store-bought smoothies. Regular alcohol consumption also poses a risk to cardiovascular health. Tobacco use at any frequency and in any form, including vaping, chewing, and smoking increases risk. Marijuana use is also a risk factor.
The U.S. Public Health Service strongly recommends regular exercise. Per the Surgeon General, adults should get two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise, such as cycling or brisk walking, every week while children and adolescents should be getting an hour a day.
We at MRTSA respond to more than 750 calls per year for cardiac problems, some of which are serious emergencies. While we have the capability to bring cutting-edge prehospital medicine into people’s homes, the most important part of a person’s medical care is prevention. If you have non-emergency concerns about your health, please contact your PCP. MRTSA offers free blood pressure checks at our main station in Mt. Lebanon when available, and if you or a loved one are having a medical emergency, please call 911, or go to the emergency room. As always, we at MRTSA wish you a safe and healthy 2023.