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Fort HealthCare Encourages the Public to Manage Preventable Risks for Heart Disease

Health, Wellness & You
Thursday, January 21, 2010

In 2005, more than 34 percent of all Wisconsin deaths (15,892) were due to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Annually, CVD causes more deaths than cancer, AIDS, automobile crashes, domestic abuse and alcohol abuse combined. In Wisconsin, the estimated annual total cost of CVD in 2005, according to the Center for Disease Control was $7.5 billion. This equates to over $1000 for every man, woman and child in our state.

While not all risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, there are some that are manageable through lifestyle modifications. Behaviors which can lead to a higher risk for heart disease include:

• Physical inactivity
• Obesity
• Poor nutrition
• Smoking

Taking charge of these risks can lower your chance of developing heart disease. To do this, begin by incorporating some moderate-intensity physical activity into your day, keep your weight in check, eat a low fat, well-balanced diet and stop smoking.

Some risk factors can be controlled through proper medical management. These may include high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. In some people these can be controlled through behavior modifications such as those mentioned above.

Cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for nearly 440,000 deaths each year, of which over 30 percent are due to smoking-related CVD. Cigarette smokers are 2-3 times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.

What about alcohol? Excessive alcohol use leads to an increase in blood pressure and increases the risk for heart disease. It also increases blood levels of triglycerides which contribute to atherosclerosis. There are mixed results as to whether a moderate amount of alcohol reduces your risk of heart disease.

You can evaluate your risk of a heart attack online by visiting and clicking on “Lifestyle Assessments” on the left-hand side of the screen.

If you have concerns about heart disease or need assistance in making lifestyle changes speak with your physician. To learn more about preventing heart disease and services available at Fort HealthCare, please join us on Saturday, February 6 at the Healthy Heart Fair. There will be educational displays, informational handouts, recipes, refreshments, prize drawings and free screenings. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Fort Memorial Hospital in Classrooms A, B, and C. Activities will conclude at 11:00 a.m. and attendees will be directed to the auditorium for the keynote speaker, Dr. Pamela Wilson, president of the Wisconsin Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association of Wisconsin. Wilson is University of Wisconsin associate professor emeritus for the School of Medicine and Public Health. “Tobacco vs. Health: The Choice is Yours” will include information on how tobacco impacts the health of smokers and non-smokers, as well as the benefits of quitting. She will explore options for improving smoking cessation outcomes for smokers willing to quit. Please come join us for this educational presentation.