‘Go Red’ campaign highlights heart health, importance of ‘knowing your numbers’

February is heart month and that means the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign is in full swing.  It raises awareness about cardiovascular disease and aims to inspire action that will help save lives.

Cardiologist Dr. Rajesh Dave from Geisinger Holy Spirit Hospital is a member of the American Heart Association. He stopped by Daybreak to talk about the importance of knowing your numbers, including blood pressure and cholesterol.

Dr. Dave offered the following advice:

Why is Knowing Your Numbers and understanding your risk for heart disease important?

* We’ve made tremendous strides, but heart disease remains the number one killer of both men and women in the United States today

* One in three Americans have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or both of these conditions which are major contributors to heart disease.

What numbers should we pay attention to?

How often should we have these numbers checked?

* It really depends on your age, your health and whether you have a personal or family history of heart disease. But as a good rule of thumb for all ages, once a year is appropriate. If you’re young, healthy and have no family history of heart disease, perhaps less frequently. But if you have a history of chronic conditions that contribute to cardiovascular disease, it could be as frequently as two to four times a year.

What’s the best way to get these numbers checked?

* This includes CVS MinuteClinic locations in Harrisburg, Lancaster and York.

* .Just walk in to get your numbers checked during operating hours. It only takes 15 minutes. You can go to MinuteClinic.com to determine the location closest to you.

What do patients need to do if there numbers are not optimal?

* A healthy diet and regular physical activity remain the foundation for preventing these conditions or lowering your numbers.

* For many, a more vigilant exercise routine and diet that lowers salt, sugar and fat intake may be all it takes to reach optimal levels.

* But if you’re at risk for heart disease, especially if you’re over 40, a smoker or overweight; it may be time to start you on blood pressure medication, recommend a statin to improve cholesterol or consider some medication options for lowering your blood glucose.

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