By: Shane Reeves, Chief Executive Officer, TwelveStone Health Partners
While your heart deserves daily attention, February is American Hearth Month.
How critical is this topic? Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, every 60 seconds, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event. But the majority of heart disease is preventable.
Women and heart disease
Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s health issue,” nearly the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number one killer.
While one in thirty-one American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease is the cause of one out of every three female deaths. Fewer women than men survive their first heart attack. And 90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke.
BUT there is good news: 80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education.
Choose healthy behaviors
With healthy lifestyle changes, you can lower heart disease risk while also preventing other serious chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugar (including artificial sugar). Tips: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and add ‘more color’ to your plate.
- Take the stairs. Park further away. Get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly plus strength training activities 2 days a week.
- Quit Smoking
Take advantage of innovative protocols and therapies
With advanced therapies, patients can live longer with a better quality of life.
- Two new drugs approved over the last two years: Ivabradine (Corlanor) and Sacubitril/Valsartan (Entresto).
- Corlanor helps lower the heart rate without affecting the squeeze of the heart.
- Entresto contains two medications in one pill: valsartan (an ARB) and sacubitril. Studies have shown Entresto reduces hospital visits and deaths from heart failure.
- Omecamtiv Mecarbil helps the heart pump blood more efficiently. One study showed it lowered the mortality risk for people who have heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. In May 2020, the FDA fast-tracked this drug to speed its approval.
- The FDA is also prioritizing review of another drug, Vericiguat. In studies, Vericiguat lowered the risk of being hospitalized or dying from heart.
- High blood pressure (linked to high cholesterol) is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Leqvio is used to reduce cholesterol and used with a low-fat diet.
The heart pump has become much more reliable, and chances of bleeding, strokes, and other problems are lower. However, getting one still requires the risk of open-heart surgery and power from outside the body, (a chord through the skin), which is a common source of infection. In the future, the goal is to have a totally implantable heart pump where nothing comes through the skin.
For people who get heart transplants, we now have better medications to keep the immune system from attacking the new organ.
Take care. Take heart.
A cheerful heart is good medicine