Small steps can prevent Kentucky’s No. 1 killer, heart disease

It is now February, which is American Heart Month and a perfect time to remind people that small steps can reduce their risk of heart disease, Kentucky’s No. 1 killer.

You may be surprised to hear that almost 80 percent of heart disease is preventable and there are daily things that can be done to keep hearts healthy, according Dr. Martha Grogan, medical editor-in-chief of Mayo Clinic Healthy Heart for Life.

For example, try to move 10 extra minutes each day, Recent research shows a sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of heart attack almost as much as smoking, said Grogan.

Each day, make an effort to get up from your desk to go talk to a colleague instead of sending an email, or walk around the house as you are talking on the phone, she recommends: “Moving even 10 minutes a day for someone who’s been sedentary may reduce the risk for heart disease by 50 percent.”

Hearts are also hurt when you deprive yourself of sleep, which is a necessity like food and water, said Virend Somers, a Mayo cardiologist and sleep expert. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.

Healthy habits can reduce a majority of risks for heart attack. “A 53-year-old male smoker with high blood pressure has a 20 percent chance of having a heart attack over the next 10 years. If he stops smoking, his risk drops to 10 percent; if he takes high blood pressure medicine, it falls to 5 percent,” says preventive cardiologist Randal Thomas, M.D.

These healthy habits and changes like quitting smoking and taking blood pressure medicine can make a difference in life and death. For more from the Mayo Clinic, click here; for a American Heart Month information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, go here.

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