Regular Screenings and Knowing Your Numbers Can Help Catch Heart Disease Early

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,200 people die each day from heart disease in the United States.

That’s why, during American Heart Month, Mercy Health would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of regular health screenings.

You may not know that heart disease affects different populations in different ways.

For example, while 6.6 percent of Caucasian American adults and 6.3 percent of African American adults are living with heart disease, African American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease, as compared to Caucasian American men, according to the Office of Minority Health.

Additionally, African American women are 1.6 times as likely as non-Hispanic white adults to have high blood pressure.

Also according to the Office of Minority Health, American Indians/Alaska Natives, on average, are more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than their white counterparts.

For people of all ethnicities, knowing and properly managing your biometric numbers such as your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can prevent or delay heart disease and its complications.

Of special interest regarding blood pressure numbers, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have revised the guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure. The new guidelines – the first comprehensive set since 2003 – lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage

The best way to find out if your numbers are within a healthy range for your gender, height and age is to have annual health screenings.

Additionally, having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health.

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