Heart Disease: Are You At Risk?

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If there is one thing all caregivers have in common, it is their extraordinarily loving hearts.

That’s why American Heart Month is such an important observance for us at Home Instead Senior Care serving the Southeast Valley.  We know firsthand that, even though caregiver hearts seem indefatigable, in reality, anything that works so very hard must be treated with the utmost vigilance.

Because, to be honest, heart disease has some pretty tough odds – especially for women. For example, did you know that:

-    It is the number one killer of U.S. women
-    It causes approximately one woman’s death every minute
-    90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease

This month, many people will decided to show their colors for American Heart Month; some participated in a walk or a fund raiser for the American Heart Association. And, hopefully, quite a few will make positive lifestyle changes that will improve their heart health.

It’s great if you can do all of those things, but even if you can’t, do at least this: take the month of February, American Heart Month, to get to know your risk factor for heart disease. The following health issues are common risk factors you should watch for:

Cholesterol:  High cholesterol has no symptoms, and many people have it without knowing. Find out what your cholesterol levels are so you can lower them if you need to.

Total cholesterol:
o    Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease.
o    200 to 239 mg/dL: Considered borderline high.
o    240 mg/dL and above: High blood cholesterol. A person with this level has more than twice the risk of heart disease.

HDL cholesterol levels: It is believed by some experts that high levels of this type of cholesterol removes excess plaque from your arteries, slowing its buildup and helping to protect against a heart attack. Low levels, however, can actually increase your risk.
o    Less than 50 mg/dL: Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.
o    60 mg/dL and above: High HDL cholesterol. Considered protective against heart disease

LDL cholesterol levels: This is the type that, when too much is present in the blood stream, can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. It’s produced naturally by the body, but is also inherited from your parents or even grandparents, and can cause you to create too much.
Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal
o    100 to 129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
o    130 to 159 mg/dL: Borderline high
o    160 to 189 mg/dL: High
o    190 mg/dL and above: Very high

Triglyceride levels: This is a form of fat made in the body. If you have an inactive lifestyle, a diet high in carbohydrates, smoke, are obese or drink too much alcohol, it can raise total cholesterol levels, and lead to high LDL and low HDL levels.
o    Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal
o    Less than 150 mg/dL: Normal
o    150–199 mg/dL: Borderline high
o    200–499 mg/dL: High
o    500 mg/dL and above: Very high

High Blood Pressure:

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers and a written as a ratio:
Systolic: The top number in the ratio, which is also the higher of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats.

Diastolic: The bottom number in the ratio, which is also the lower of the two, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.
o    Normal: Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
o    Pre-hypertension: 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
o    Hypertension: 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic
o    Hypertensive Crisis: higher than 180 or higher than 110 diastolic

o    Nicotine makes your heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket.
o    Carbon monoxide and tobacco rob your heart, brain and arteries of oxygen.
o    It damages your blood vessels and makes your blood sticky – a recipe for blood clots.
o    It lowers your tolerance for physical activity and decreases HDL (good) cholesterol.
o    If you take oral contraceptives it increases your blood pressure and risk for stroke and heart attack.



Your Body Mass Index (BMI), a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, is a good indicator of whether you’re at a healthy or unhealthy weight. Here’s how it breaks down:
o    Underweight: Less than 18.5
o    Healthy weight: Less than 25
o    Overweight: Between 25 and 29.9
o    Obese: 30 or higher is considered obese.
To calculate your exact BMI value, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide by your height in inches, then divide again by the same number (height in inches).

For more information about American Heart Month, visit https://www.goredforwomen.org/. For more information about caring for yourself while caring for a loved one, contact Home Instead Senior Care of the Southeast Valley at 480-827-4343 or Like us on Facebook.


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