ealth and well-being are atop the list of priorities for most if not all Americans and Louisianians. Over the past 40 to 50 years, substantial efforts have been made to improve both longevity and quality of life. These efforts have resulted in substantial improvement in quality of life as well as increased average life span. However, cardiovascular disease remains at the top of the list of causes of mortality. It is then not surprising that cardiovascular disease is front and center for the medical community as well as the adult population.

Heart Association, cardiovascular disease led to more than 870,000 deaths in 2017. Coronary heart disease remains a leading cause of death in the United States, and estimates suggest that the cost, both direct and indirect, related to cardiovascular disease is greater than $200 billion per year. In addition, the lost productivity related to cardiovascular events may be as high as $140 billion per year. It is therefore critical as individuals, family members, and citizens that we pay careful attention to individual risk for cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular events.

Cardiovascular disease is preventable and treatable. The challenge to our citizens is to seek medical care before it is too late

Cardiovascular disease manifests itself in many forms, including chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, stroke as well as sudden cardiac death. Recognizing symptoms and risk factors for cardiovascular disease becomes critical to avoid experiencing major adverse events such as heart attack, stroke, or even sudden death. Anyone having risk factors who experiences chest discomfort, chest pain, shortness of breath when at rest or with activity should immediately seek the advice of a physician. Similarly, anyone with weakness affecting one side of the body, vision, or speech changes should also seek medical attention as soon as possible.

The commonly accepted risk factors for cardiovascular disease include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, inactivity, family history of cardiovascular disease, and smoking. Fortunately, today there are very good treatments for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol that have minimal side effects. Exercise such as walking has been clearly shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular event. Smoking cessation can be achieved, and significant resources are available to anyone in Louisiana.

Are you at risk? You are if:

  • You have high level of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
  • You are African American
    (nearly half of all African Americans have some form of heart disease)
  • An immediate family history of heart attack or stroke
  • You have diabetes
  • You smoke
  • You are obese
  • You are a post-menopausal woman

For those who have cardiovascular disease, experience heart attack or stroke, there are very technologically advanced treatments, which include stents, clot dissolving medicines, and surgical procedures that can relieve symptoms and help patients live longer. It is critical to recognize the symptoms of heart attack and stroke in order to benefit from these advances. Don’t wait!

Cardiovascular disease is preventable and treatable. The challenge to our citizens is to seek medical care before it is too late. Take advantage of the many options available to you – see the experts at Willis-Knighton’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program. Life is short, don’t make it shorter. Take control. Don’t wait!