From a presentation by
Brian P. Wall, MD
McLeod Cardiology Associates
Some heart risk factors we cannot control, but some of the most important ones we can reduce. McLeod Cardiologist Brian P. Wall, MD explains what women can control and how our region’s statistics compare to the state and nation:
When you hear the term cardiovascular disease, that’s kind of an umbrella term that describes all the disease about heart and blood vessels.
For the heart, there are conditions like heart attack and myocardial infarction, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, or cerebral vascular disease – stroke or TIAs. TIA is the name for “mini-strokes.” Peripheral vascular disease includes blockages in the carotid arteries, which are the vessels in the neck, as well as blockages in the vessels in your legs or arms. Aortic disease, which includes thoracic and abdominal aneurysms, is enlargement of that vessel in the chest or the abdomen.
Heart disease is a general term that refers to someone who has blockages in the vessels of the heart. This is also called coronary artery disease. Those terms are often used interchangeably.
I like to divide risk factors into modifiable (things you can change) and non-modifiable (things you are born with and are not able to change).
The things you can’t change include age, the post-menopausal stage in women, and family history of early heart problems.
Things you can change include what you eat, how often you exercise, and tobacco use. Smoking is a significant risk factor.
How does the Pee Dee region of South Carolina stack up against the rest of the state and the country in these risk factors?
Regarding people who are current smokers, about 21% of females in the Pee Dee area smoke. Across the state, it’s 22%. So, we’re a bit better. But before we start celebrating, the fact is, South Carolina is not that healthy. Nationally, about 14% of females age 18 and older are smokers. And smoking is THE #1 RISK FACTOR for heart disease.
Sedentary lifestyle describes people who are not very active. There are many jobs where people sit at computers all day and are not very active when they get home. In the Pee Dee, approximately 34% of females lead this lifestyle, compared to 25% statewide. Nationally, it’s about 30%.
Being overweight or Obesity is based on your Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or greater. In the Pee Dee area, the average is 72% of females are either overweight or obese. Statewide, the average is 66%, which is lower than the national average of 69%.
Cholesterol is elevated in about 40% of females in the Pee Dee. The national average is about 31%.
With averages in the Pee Dee area higher than the state or nation, it’s easy to see why our rate of heart disease is also higher.
To put all this in perspective, if you do the following things, you can reduce your chances of heart disease by 82 percent. These measures require no medicines at all:
For more information about women and their risk factors for heart disease, you may find these articles useful:
Heart Disease: #1 Killer of Women
To learn more, find a cardiologist near you.