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Check your heart Saturday at hospital
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Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in America today.
The American Heart Association defines ideal cardiovascular health based on seven health factors: smoking status, weight, physical activity, healthy diet, cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels, as well as the absence of a diagnosis of heart or blood vessel disease.
Based on that definition, new data shows 94 percent of U.S. adults have at least one and 38 percent have at least three of the seven factors at “poor” levels.
That’s why River Park Hospital is holding its 2012 Heart Healthy Fair this Saturday, Feb. 25. The health fair will take place from 7 to 10 a.m. in the hospital’s main lobby and will include blood pressure checks, body mass index analyses, blood/ oxygen level testing, stroke risk assessment and more. The fair will also include valuable health and wellness information and opportunities for attendees to speak with and ask questions of several medical professionals.
“A person’s lifestyle plays a very big part in the onset of heart disease. Risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and living a sedentary lifestyle can be controlled to a point. High stress, smoking and heavy alcohol consumption are other risk factors that can be controlled,” says April Birchfield director of River Park’s cardiac rehabilitation program. “The screenings and health information provided at the Heart Healthy Fair will be helpful to those wishing to keep an eye on their risk factors.”
 While many of the risk factors can be modified, treated or controlled by a lifestyle change or by medication, there are also several factors like age, gender and heredity, that cannot be controlled and must be monitored on a regular basis. According to the American Heart Association, some of the uncontrollable risk factors include:
• Increasing age — Over 83 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older. At older ages, women who have heart attacks are more likely than men to die from them within a few weeks.
• Male sex (gender) — Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women do and they have attacks earlier in life. Even after menopause, when women’s death rate from heart disease increases, it’s not as great as men’s.
• Heredity (including race) — Children of parents with heart disease are more likely to develop it themselves. African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease.
Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Most people with a strong family history of heart disease have one or more other risk factors.
Those who have appointments to participate in the cholesterol and glucose screening are reminded not to eat anything after midnight the night before the tests, though black coffee and water are acceptable. All other screenings available at the event will be first come, first served. Additionally, River Park will be giving away free T-shirts to the first 30 in attendance.
For more information about River Park’s Heart Healthy Fair, contact community relations coordinator Ashley Wright at 815-4349.