In the spirit of American Heart Month, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner weighed in on heart disease in Highland County.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens — one in four deaths are caused by heart disease.
Warner told The Times-Gazette that in 2019, there were 363 deaths in Highland County and 105 were caused by cardiac-related issues.
”Heart disease is our biggest killer in the community overall,” Warner said.
Heart disease can be caused by high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (sometimes called “bad” cholesterol), and smoking, the CDC said, adding 49 percent of Americans have at least one of these risk factors. Diabetes, obesity, poor diet, high sodium intake, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use also contribute to heart disease.
To improve heart health, the CDC recommends eating more fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods; avoiding foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and sodium; exercising regularly; and not smoking.
According to the CDC, the Surgeon General recommends adults exercise for two and a half hours over the span of a week while children and adolescents should have one hour of physical activity every day.
The CDC also recommends checking cholesterol every four to sixyears and blood pressure every two years.
Warner said the health department is offering no-cost lipid panels until the end of February.
Lipid panels provide a more in-depth look at cholesterol levels.
“There are still quite a few people in our county who don’t have a regular primary physician or don’t have insurance and can’t afford to get their cholesterol checked,” Warner said. “Every February we offer 50 free lipid screenings to the community. We rarely ever get all 50 of those slots filled, but we’re trying to get people to pay attention to their heart health.”
Everyone benefits from preventative health care, Warner said.
“When we invest a little bit of money in these preventative health screenings and find problems early, it not only helps that person be healthier but if our tax dollars are covering Medicaid and Medicare for that individual, it’s saving us all money because we’re not dealing with the really severe diseases later on,” Warner said. “You’re finding problems early, and fixing them when it’s easy to fix them. It benefits everybody to find problems early on.“
The health department will offer no-cost lipid panels until the end of February.
The health department offers low-cost screenings year-round including lipid panels, complete blood count (CBC) panels and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.
For information about these or any of the panels the health department offers, call the Highland County Health Department at 937-393-1941.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.