South Heartland Health shares heart health tips for American Heart Month

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – February is American Heart Month and the South Heartland District Health Department is highlighting the importance of heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease during the month.

According to health experts, one person dies from cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds globally.

Director Michele Bever said what makes cardiovascular disease so dangerous, is that it can lead to a lot of life-threatening conditions in patients.

”Cardiovascular diseases are diseases of the heart and blood vessels and there’s a set of conditions as a result of a substance called plaque that’s building up in our arteries and these conditions could be coronary artery disease, where it’s chest pain, heart attack, or stroke,” Bever said.

She added that cardiovascular disease is not only the leading cause of death nationwide but also prevalent in the state of Nebraska.

”About 1 in 12 people have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease and these are the leading causes of death across the nation actually and if you have diabetes than you’re two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those who do not have diabetes,” Bever said.

In addition to being a leading cause of death, she mentioned that the disease also imposes a financial burden on families, with healthcare costs exceeding $422.3 billion between 2019 and 2020.

To lower the risk of the disease and improve your overall cardiovascular health, Bever emphasized the importance of making lifestyle changes and educating yourself about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

”Both diabetes and cardiovascular disease have similar risk factors, so it’s important to learn or find out if you have those risk factors and think about whether to take some next steps and make some changes and there’s some things everyone can do to make their risk

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Living healthy lifestyle can fight existing signs of dementia, study finds

“We found that the lifestyle-cognition association was independent of Alzheimer’s disease pathology burden, suggesting that (a healthy) lifestyle may provide cognitive benefits even for people who have begun to accumulate dementia-related pathologies in their brains,” said lead author Dr. Klodian Dhana, an assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago, via email.

In other words, the study found the presence of Alzheimer’s or another neurological disorder “didn’t seem to matter — the lifestyle changes provided the brain resilience against some of the most common causes of dementia,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida.

“It’s like a video game where you are shooting monsters,” said Isaacson, who wasn’t involved in the study. “The gun –the lifestyle changes — was able to defeat the ghosts, ghouls, goblins, vampires and zombies.”

Five healthy habits were tracked

For the study, autopsies were performed on 586 people living in retirement communities, senior housing and individual residences in the Chicago area who had participated in the Rush Memory and Aging Project between 1997 and 2022. The participants, who lived to an average age of 91, underwent regular cognitive and physical testing and filled out annual questionnaires on their lifestyles for over two decades before they died.

People in the study were categorized as living a low-risk or healthy lifestyle if they scored top marks in five different categories: they did not smoke; they did moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes a week; they kept their alcohol consumption to about one drink a day for women and two for men; and they regularly stimulated their brain by reading, visiting museums, and playing games like cards, checkers, crosswords or puzzles.

The fifth category measured how well they followed

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