Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Each year heart disease kills nearly 610,000 people, which is one in every four deaths in the United States. Although heart disease can be hereditary, there are ways to prevent it.
St. Catherine University Health and Wellness Clinic staff member, Sarah Hoyt, shares her expertise on heart disease. Hoyt has been the RN and Health Promotion Coordinator at St. Kate’s since November 2014.
If heart disease runs in someone’s family, that person is at a higher risk. “It is important to know if you have a history of heart disease in your family so you can be even more vigilant about caring for your heart health,” says Hoyt.
One way to prevent heart disease is to live an active life while incorporating healthy foods. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive alcohol intake, and smoking all put someone at a higher risk for heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease can be silent and go undiagnosed until women experience symptoms of heart attack, heart failure, an arrhythmia or stroke. These symptoms can include chest or back pain, heart burn/indigestion, palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of feet/ankles/legs/abdomen, or sudden weakness or paralysis.
Hoyt says the University has resources right on campus if someone is showing symptoms. “St. Kate’s Health and Wellness Clinic is open to students who need yearly physicals or for those who may have symptoms.” She adds that if you are experiencing chest pain or having symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical attention at the nearest emergency room immediately.
The Health and Wellness Clinic is open Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
The Butler Center is a great place to start. “The cardio room, pool, and Fit 4 Life classes are all great places for students to improve their physical health through exercise,” says Hoyt.
Eating healthy and making good food choices will also decrease someone’s chances of heart disease, she adds. “Try to limit processed foods, keep an eye on portion sizes, and mix it up with a variety of fruits and vegetables.”