Tag Archives: high blood pressure

Is your Heart older than You? Find out your “Heart Age”

Grewal Kanny MD 2x3 webI decided to spend my birthday figuring out my age. Not my actual age, which is painfully obvious, but my “Heart Age”. This is a new online calculator (featured in the Wall Street Journal this week) created by researchers in the UK, which uses existing data regarding the prediction of future cardiovascular risk (from the Framingham database, which is the most comprehensive set of data available). It has been reformatted into an algorithm that compares your true age with your estimated cardiovascular age, as a general way to look at your overall cardiovascular health.   To use the calculator, you need to know:

– your true age, sex, height and weight

-a recent total cholesterol and HDL if available

-a recent blood pressure reading

-your family medical history

Of course, there are several limitations to a simple calculator like this – it doesn’t take into account any symptoms you may have, or the duration or severity of risk factors. And the database from which it is drawn was created predominantly from Caucasian Americans, so it may not directly predict risk for other ethnic groups (for example South Asians, whose risk may be higher, or based on different weighting of factors). But it is a nice snapshot of your CV health in a format that is easy to understand.

So how did I do? Well, fortunately my Heart Age came out less than my actual age – but not by much. (Luckily, I have 365 days to make some progress!) Give it a try yourself:

Here is a link to the Heart Age calculator.

If your heart age is older than your real age, don’t dismay (the average result is 6 years older than real age!), but do look back at the questions – and notice how dropping your blood pressure, cholesterol, or waist size has a positive impact. We can’t change our age or family history (and generally not our sex), but lifestyle changes can go a long way to reduce our risk. So click here to learn about the best medication for heart disease – a therapy that reduces blood pressure and cholesterol and shrinks our waist size as well!

For more information see our articles on heart healthly diet and heart prevention in women.

Here is an informative video interview with the creator, from the WSJ: http://live.wsj.com/video/how-old-is-your-heart/A280BEEC-4649-4472-8223-65856B0FB3A5.html

Wrapping Up #HeartMonth

IMG_9814rtEvery month is Heart Month here at Heart Health Doctors.  That said, February 2014 is the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month.  The Columbus Dispatch 2/23/14 supplement Your Health focuses on Heart Health with tips to use through the coming year & beyond.  In this post I  summarize a few of the articles and have added heart specific information.

Your Health covers the heart health benefits of activity, consideration of medication – from aspirin therapy to high blood pressure medicine, and diet.  There is a great photo of a treadmill desk; these are desks where users can actually walk while using a computer or reading.  As well as standing desks, the treadmill desks offer great alternatives to sitting.  Breaking up sedentary behavior – or encouraging people to just “move more”  will improve heart health. “Sitting is the new smoking” is now a common comment from physicians interested in prevention.

Understanding why you are taking any pill or food is important; we don’t always consider closely what we eat – be it food or medicine – and may lapse in consistency.  The importance of taking medication for high blood pressure is reviewed.

Here is a good video about high blood pressure:

Your Health also writes about, the ‘miracle’ heart drug aspirin.  Aspirin has risks and benefits – with evidence for benefit for healthy men older than 50 years to prevent heart attack and stroke (and colon cancer), but for healthy women that benefit doesn’t outweigh risk of bleeding until age 65 years old.  Any medicine choice is a time to talk to your health care provider; because many different factors are involved.

As outlined here at Heart Health Doctors, your diet is a key part of overall heart health.  But what if you are not at goal weight?  Using different ways to get to goal weight are reviewed with Jennifer Burton RD at the McConnell Heart Health Center who was interviewed for the Your Health Dispatch supplement.

Finally, as winter in central Ohio has shown us, weather and how to prepare for it, can challenge anyone’s best intentions to stay active.  Sports Medicine Physician and athlete Dr. Darrin Bright is interviewed for the article on Exercise Smart.  Cardiologists in particular appreciate the risk of cold weather activity.  The stress of cold temperatures combined with strenuous activity such as, specifically, snow shoveling can be dangerous and a set up for heart attack.

Any consideration of cold weather activity should include asking “have I been active?” and “am I ready for this?”  Don’t ignore symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, shoulder jaw or neck pain, dizziness/lightheadedness among others); proceed gradually.

Dr. Bright’s recommendations to dress according to the temperature help guide anyone wanting to be active during winter.  The recommendations in the article to dress in layers and be prepared for changes in footing apply; I like the message that weather should not stop us from being active year round.

We know the benefits of exercise, but the goal is to be safe – and ready.  Exercise Smart has great information for winter activity; but what Central Ohioans (this one at least!) are definitely ready for this year, is spring.