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How’s Your Heart?

Heart and Stethoscope

I just had my birthday … and it’s Heart Month. This has gotten me thinking about what my heart might look like. I’m curious: does it look like that of a 30-year-old or is it more like a 70-year-old’s? I would imagine there would be a lot of variation and many Americans may have hearts that appear older than their actual age. Imagine that!

To assess your heart age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others offer tools that generate an estimate based on your risk factors. Putting in your weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking history allows the tools to calculate your heart age and perhaps get you thinking about ways to reduce that age and live longer. As the daughter of a man who had his first heart attack at age 53 and who was 14 when he lost his father from a heart attack, I am happy that we now know so much more about how to prevent this from happening.

In 1948 that was not the case and a groundbreaking research project, the Framingham Heart Study, was begun. This project launched with more than 5,000 men and women ages 30 to 62 from Massachusetts, who took part in physician exams and lifestyle interviews to begin to understand the common factors and characteristics of cardiovascular disease. The study, which is now following a third generation of people, identified risk factors and uncovered a great deal of extremely valuable information. The study findings were published in more than 1,000 articles. The investigators are now expanding research to other areas such as genetic factors and diagnostic technologies, all of which will continue to further our knowledge and understanding.

Our work at HealthInsight allows us to spread knowledge on how to take care of your heart through communities, providers, stakeholders and patients. Programs like Million Hearts® have quality materials that we share when opportunities present.

Whether through improved diagnostic tests or digital monitoring devices, technology is helping us to become more aware of how our hearts might be functioning. Technology is also providing us with treatment options that weren’t even dreamed of just 20 years ago, such as less invasive surgeries and more effective drugs. I, for one, am exceedingly appreciative of all the research that has gotten us to this point.

Now, it’s time to put down my laptop and lace up my gym shoes ….

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