Why it’s important to recognize your risk of heart disease

Estimated reading time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — February is National Heart Month. Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But there are some ways you can change your lifestyle to help prevent this.

Dr. Elizabeth Joy, senior medical director for wellness and nutrition at Intermountain Health, said it’s important to recognize your risk for heart disease.

She said if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, or if you smoke, are overweight, don’t exercise, or have a family history of heart disease, you’re at risk. “We think of heart disease at some level of genetics, load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger,” she said. “By environment I really mean our personal environment.”

Joy said that to keep your heart healthy, she recommends more sleep, exercise, and a better diet.

For 82-year-old Linda LeCheminant, eating well and getting more exercise have made all the difference to her health. She said she changed her lifestyle about 25 years ago, after she suffered a stroke. “I was a little worried about my heart health at the time,” she said.

Then she started seeing Joy. “Linda is a great example of someone who had a health problem, a health incident, that really pushed her to look at her lifestyle and say, ‘What should I do differently?’ and she took it with enthusiasm,” said Joy.

Joy said LeCheminant is at high risk for heart disease and another stroke, so she had to make some lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise. “We say active at any age, active at any size, active with almost any condition, so move your way, be active, and that’s going to have a huge impact on your life,” Joy said.

LeCheminant said it’s never too late to change something. “I want to live for a while and be as healthy as possible,” she said. “You have to keep moving and tell yourself you can do it.”


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Ayanna Likens

Ayanna Likens is an Emmy award-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.

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