Why is Heart Health becoming an increasing health topic in recent decades?

Heart disease has been the #1 cause of death worldwide for the last century.  Medicine has been battling this disease for decades, and has made great advances, like bypass surgeries, stents, and a whole industry of medications.  But despite all this, we are still losing the battle against heart disease.

On January 24, 2011, the American Heart Association completed a report on heart disease prevalence and cost projections over the next two decades.  In 2010, 80 million American adults (30% of the adult population) were found to have heart disease.  The cost of treating these individuals was $272.5 billion.  The American Heart Association went on to project that, in 2030, 116 million American adults (40% of adults) would have heart disease, with treatment costing $818.1 billion per year.

According to this projection, in 20 years, we will be spending three times as much to fight heart disease, yet more people than ever will suffer from the disease.  Something is clearly wrong with this picture.  Heart disease continues to be a frequent topic of debate because our flawed approach to treating the disease is putting a stop to it.

Below are a few questions that Dr. Boone was recently asked about heart health, etc. Read what he has to say…

Q – How does the heart relate to overall well being?

Dr. Boone’s Answer – “Heart disease is a unique disease in that you don’t necessarily feel bad as it develops and worsens.  Often, the first sign of heart disease in an individual is heart attack, stroke, or sudden death.  However, the heart is central to all of the body’s many complex systems.  Therefore, good diet, frequent exercise, and stress management are all crucial to maintaining good cardiovascular health, and are also contributors to overall well being.”

Q – What are some key things to pay attention to when it comes to individual Heart Health?

All of the standard indicators are still quite important, such as family history, lifestyle, diet, history of smoking, alcohol use, and cholesterol level.

Dr. Boone’s Answer – “However, we now have more advanced tools to identify an individual’s risk for heart disease.  Advanced blood tests now give us sophisticated measurements of cholesterol particle size and number, searching for underlying genetic issues unique to each individual.  Advanced imaging techniques can identify the “breeding ground” for dangerous plaque that could eventually lead to heart attack or stroke.  With these issues identified, we can aggressively treat the inflammation before it ever leads to an adverse event.

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Boone Health Institute’s BraveHeart Program

Boone Heart Institute’s BraveHeart Program was started in 2005 in response to Dr. Jeffrey L. Boone’s startling discovery that the heart attack rate among firefighters is astoundingly high. So for those of you who have never before heard of our BraveHeart Program, following is information that will tell you all about it.

First, a few statistical facts about firefighters that you may not already know:

• 47.5% of all on-duty firefighter deaths are due to heart attack and stroke*

• 58.7% of these deaths are due to stress/overexertion*

• 100% of these on-duty fatalities are preventable

 *2009 National Firefighter Fatality Summary, U.S. Fire Administration, November 2009 Report

BraveHeart was developed and custom tailored specifically for firefighters – because of their high-intensity and high-stress work environment. Essentially, Dr. Boone wants to make sure our firefighters are going to be available (and healthy!) when we need them the most!

What Does the BraveHeart Program Do?

The BraveHeart program is mobile and it screens firefighters on-site. The program can accommodate up to 50 participants each day. During each evaluation, firefighters are screened for their risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the BraveHeart program goes beyond screening only firefighters. Screenings are also available to all employees of fire houses. Firefighters’ spouses,  friends, and  relatives are also welcome to undergo a cardiovascular examination.

Dr. Boone is a recognized expert on how the heart is affected by physical and mental stress. He has not only works with firefighters, but he has also assists others with extremely high-stress professions, such as those working in all areas of law enforcement as well as individuals who are professional athletes. He believes that the BraveHeart program is an essential tool that will not only ensure these individuals are aware of their risks of developing cardiovascular disease, but also to help them halt any cardiovascular problems that may have already started.

Words from Actual Firefighters About the BraveHeart Program:

Boone Heart Institute’s website contains many published testimonials from actual firefighters whose lives were positively affected by the BraveHeart program. Cardiovascular screenings take place regularly around the Denver Metro area as well as other areas in Colorado. Please contact Boone Heart Institute by calling (303) 762-0710 for more information. We are on a mission to eradicate cardiovascular disease among firefighters!


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Cholesterol: The good, the Bad and the Essential

When people think of the word cholesterol, they automatically think of something negative. This is because people who have high cholesterol are told they must alter their diets and/or take medication in order to lower their cholesterol number – - or else face the possibility of serious health ramifications. But the truth is that cholesterol is not necessarily bad. In fact, it is something that the human body needs for survival.

Types of Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol, which are generally labeled as the “good” or the “bad” variety. The “good” type of cholesterol is called HDL, or high-density lipoprotein. The “bad” type of cholesterol is called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein. When there is either too much LDL or too little HDL in your blood, it can affect the health of your heart and put you at risk for a stroke, a heart attack, or coronary heart disease.

Some of the cholesterol in your body is a result of the types of food you eat – specifically, animal products. But a majority of the cholesterol in your blood comes from your body itself. Cholesterol is produced naturally in your body by your liver.

How to Determine Your Cholesterol Levels
Most doctors recommend that adults have their blood tested at least once a year for their cholesterol levels. This test is often referred to as a cholesterol screening. The results of this screening will alert the doctor to whether or not you should adjust your diet, be more diligent about an exercise program, or possibly even start taking medication to make sure your LDL cholesterol is not too high and your HDL cholesterol is not too low.

Several tactics can be employed to help get a person’s cholesterol levels to within a healthy range:

  • Sticking to a regular, vigorous exercise routine
  • Reducing the consumption of trans fats
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet
  • Eliminating cigarette smoking

What are Triglycerides
In addition to LDL and HDL, your physician may measure your triglyceride levels when conducting a cholesterol screening test. The body naturally makes triglycerides, which is a type of fat. When a person’s triglycerides are high, it is a good indication that the HDL level is low and the LDL is high – which essentially equates to a bad combination. When triglycerides are high, there is a good chance that heart disease and/or diabetes may develop.

Understanding Your Cholesterol Numbers
Learning the difference between HDL and LDL can be confusing. After you undergo a cholesterol screening, it’s important to go over your results with your physician to make sure you understand what all the numbers mean. Please make sure you understand that cholesterol exists in everyone’s body – and certain levels are fine. What’s really important to know about your cholesterol  is the ratio of “good” to “bad.” For example, your LDL number may be high, but if your HDL number is also high, you may have an acceptable ratio. Remember, we all need cholesterol to survive, but we must make sure our cholesterol levels are kept in check!

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The Link Between Dental Health and Heart Disease

It may be strange to think that your oral and dental health may be directly related to the health of your heart. In fact, there have been numerous studies that link diseases of the gums (commonly known as “periodontal disease”), cavities, and missing teeth to heart disease. What does this potentially mean? It means that brushing and flossing your teeth every day may actually help prevent you from developing coronary artery disease.

FEB-3-HEart-health-and-dental-healthWhile the evidence is not completely conclusive, there is enough research out there to suggest there is a correlation between dental health and heart disease. There are several possible explanations for this, and one is related to the bacteria that grow in the mouth. It is possible that bacteria in the oral cavity makes its way into the body’s bloodstream, which in turn may cause a reaction in the body’s blood vessels. Such a reaction may increase the potential for heart disease.

Regardless of whether  research on the link between dental health and heart disease is factual, it is recommended that everyone err on the side of caution. In other words, maintaining excellent oral health should be a top priority – even if the overall condition of your teeth and gums is not directly related to your chances of developing heart disease. If nothing else, taking good care of your teeth and gums will help prevent cavities, problems with the gums such as inflammation and periodontal disease, and infections in the mouth.

How to Take Care of your Dental Health

Taking good care of your teeth and gums is not difficult. The steps are simple and easily followed:

  • Make sure to schedule a dental check-up and professional cleaning two times a year
  • Always brush your teeth at least two times a day, using a toothbrush that is in good condition
  • Use dental floss every single day – at least once
  • If you wear dentures, make sure they fit correctly

What if You Already Have Heart Disease?

If you already know you have heart disease, it is overly important that you see your dentist on a regular basis to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Make sure to tell your dentist about your heart disease and provide him or her with your complete medical record – including all of the medications you are currently taking. Make sure to talk with your doctor and your dentist if you have any concerns about your dental health as it relates to heart disease.

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