What are Stents?
George W. Bush underwent a procedure called angioplasty, where doctors inserted a small mesh stent into his clogged artery. Doctors use stents to treat clogged or weak arteries , and to improve the blood flow to the heart.
According to the NY Times, nearly a half a million Americans undergo surgery to have a stent placed to relieve clogged arteries. The surgery costs on average about 30,000 dollars for each individual. Complications, such as tears in the arteries and bleeding from the blood vessel walls can occur; however, angioplasty can be a lifesaving procedure.
On the other hand, what if you could prevent clogged arteries and save that $30,000 dollars, not to mention time recuperating and the potential complications of surgery?
Preventing Heart Disease
Your family history does play a role in diseases and cancers that you may develop, but don’t throw in the towel just yet. Two large studies conducted by the Northwestern Medicine confirms that a healthy lifestyle has the biggest impact on cardiovascular health.
One study found that the majority of people who adopted a healthy lifestyle in their young adult lives maintained a low cardiovascular risk throughout middle age adulthood.
Lifestyle to Lower Cardiovascular Risk: Researchers found that the five most important behaviors to adopt were no smoking, low or no alcohol intake, weight control, physical activity, and a healthy diet. These individuals will live much longer, have a better quality of life, and have lower medical bills. The study included 2,363 white and African American participants ages 18 to 30 for 20 years. Researchers track the participants diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking, weight, blood pressure, and glucose levels at the start of the study, then at the seventh year, and then again at the 20th year.
After 20 years, 60 percent of the participants had a low risk profile, these participants followed all five of the healthy lifestyle factors. The prevalence of a low-risk profile was 37 percent who followed four of the healthy lifestyle factors, 30 percent for three factors, 17 percent for two factors, and six percent for one or none of the factors.
Family Habits and Heredity: In the second study, researchers examined three generations of families from the Framingham Heart Study to determine if heredity played a role in cardiovascular health. Researchers looked at 7,535 people at the age of 40 and a separate group of 8,920 people at the age of 50. Heritability includes a combination of genetic factors and the effects of sharing an environment, such as eating the same foods.
Researchers found that only a small portion of cardiovascular health is passed on from parent to child. Instead, the majority of cardiovascular health is due to lifestyle and healthy behaviors.
Stats and Chances
According to the American Heart Association, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. You don’t have to be one of the statistics: Although genetics does play a role, it’s a small role in your overall cardiovascular health. Lead author, Norrina Allen of the Northwestern study and postdoctoral fellow in preventative medicine at the Feinberg School said,“What you do and how you live is going to have a larger impact on whether you are in ideal cardiovascular health than your genes or how you were raised.”
American Heart Association. About Heart Attacks. (2012). Accessed October 16, 2013.
Grush, Loren. George W. Bush artery was 95 percent blocked, sources say. (2013). FOX News. Accessed October 16, 2013.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is a stent? (2011). Accessed October 16, 2013.
O’Connor, Anahad. Heart Stents, Still Overused Experts Say. (2013). New York Times. Accessed October 16, 2013.
Northwestern University. Is heart disease genetic destiny or lifestyle? (2010). Accessed October 16, 2013.
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