Special to the Express
Are you young at heart? When it comes to cardiovascular disease, the statistics for Tennesseans are not encouraging. Tennessee has the seventh highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the United States. Tennessee also ranks among the worst states in the nation when it comes to heart age.
So, what is heart age? It’s the age of your heart and blood vessels when considering risk factors such as heart attack and stroke. The hope is that the heart age is equal to or less than a person’s chronological age.
“Studies have shown that half of all men and forty percent of all women have a heart age that is five or more years older than their actual age,” said Shelly Shellenbarger, Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett chest pain coordinator. “In fact, the average adult in the United States has a heart age that is seven years older than it should be.”
While such factors as age and family history are out of your control, the good news is that there are several factors that can be controlled that could lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. These include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and diabetes.
At Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, free cardiac age screenings are offered to the community to help detect minor problems before they turn into significant health risks. The free screenings allow individuals to learn their body mass index, cholesterol level, glucose level, and blood pressure. Using these results, Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett is then able to provide a person with their cardiac age.
Once people learn their cardiac age, they also have the opportunity to speak with a medical professional regarding their results. These conversations help put the results into perspective and provide people with answers to any questions they may have about their heart health.
Making A difference
“I believe these free screenings saved my life,” said Marius Payton.
Marius had attended a cardiac age screening with his wife, Susan. They had recently started a vegetarian diet and exercise program, and Marius was excited to see the effect this had on his cholesterol level. The good news was that his cholesterol was in the normal range for the first time in many years. The bad news was that his blood pressure was extremely high, resulting in a heart age of 67, 20 years older than his chronological age.
“I had thought my recent headaches were a result of allergies,” explained Marius. “I went to the doctor because of the blood pressure results at the heart age screening, and it was discovered that I had a complete blockage of an artery to my brain. I am currently being treated, and I hope that I am on the road to recovery. If I hadn’t gone to the screening, I hate to think about what might have happened.”
Schedule your free screening
Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett will be hosting free cardiac age screenings on Feb. 10, and Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis will be hosting them on Feb. 14. If you are ready to find out if you are young at heart, make your appointment by calling (844) 644-2273 or by visiting MyCardiacAge.com.