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Your Healthy Family: Be heart aware, it's American Heart Month

Posted at 10:46 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 13:14:15-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family, ahead of the big game Sunday, I’ll spare you the lecture about not going to a big watch party and just say this: Be safe and take appropriate precautions to keep yourself and others around you safe.

I feel it’s a good time to remind everyone that as terrible as COVID has been, we also live with other medical problems that kill far too many people needlessly every year, such as heart disease.

February is American Heart Month. The American Heart Association reports that heart disease deaths worldwide rose 17.1% over the past decade, with nearly 18.6 million people dying of heart disease in 2019. The CDC reports in the United States there were 655,000 heart disease deaths in 2019 compared with 455,000 COVID deaths U.S. so far in the pandemic.

Can you imagine a world in which heart disease prevention received half the attention and action we are giving COVID-19? Just like social distancing, masking, and frequent hand washing can help fight the spread of coronavirus, there are also measures people can - and should - take to prevent heart disease.

Every time I interview Dr. Peter Walinsky [uchealth.org], the senior director of cardiac and vascular surgery at UCHealth Memorial, about any topic, he reminds me that a simple screening for heart valve disease when people turn 60 would save many lives every year. “Heart valve disease is an independent risk factor for significant morbidity and mortality. That's one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about trying to get the word out that if we screened everybody when they are 60 years old with an echocardiogram, which is a cheap non-invasive test, we would catch people earlier in their disease and then could follow them more carefully and intervene earlier, before they came into the emergency department with heart failure, because the most common presentation for aortic valve stenosis is heart failure.”

If you have questions about heart diseases, your risks or screening tests that you should be getting to protect your health, make sure to have a conversation with your doctor. Having an annual physical is also important to be aware of and manage many health challenges and it gives you a perfect time to have those conversations with your doctor.

No matter who you’re rooting for this Sunday, here's to being proactive about your health in every way, every day and I hope you have a fun and safe weekend.

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