Posted on June 17, 2008
Tim Russert passed away last Friday because plaque from a clogged artery ruptured, traveled to his heart and blocked it. He was only 58. According to his doctor, Russert had heart disease, diabetes, and was overweight.1
I never watched Tim Russert’s show “Meet The Press” and I don’t assume or pretend to know how or if he took care of himself. It is just still sad to me when I hear of yet another person dying from something that could have possibly been avoided by the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits.
Again, I don’t know much about Tim Russert, but what I have seen is that he was loved and respected by many people. It seems he will be missed greatly. Hopefully his death will serve as a reminder that no one is immune from the jaws of heart disease. Hopefully his death will also remind us that there are many things we can do to keep chronic diseases at bay.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), almost 700,000 people die of heart disease in the US each year. That is 29% of all US deaths. Go here to read more about heart disease from the CDC.
Even though no outward signs of heart disease (or any other chronic condition) are yet evident, don’t assume that an unhealthy lifestyle isn’t hurting your body. Usually we don’t know something is wrong until something serious happens. I understand that most Americans, like Tim Russert, are very busy with their jobs, families, and other activities. What we need to remember is that if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, we might not be around very long to enjoy the activities and people we love.
By addressing certain risk factors we can reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Here are some risk factors for heart disease that we can control:2
Physical Inactivity – By being active you can help control other risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and even diabetes.
Obesity- Excess body fat can impact blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes.
Unhealthy Diet – Diets high in saturated fats and cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis. Diets high in sodium can lead to high blood pressure.
High blood pressure – Sometimes no symptoms are seen with raising blood pressure. It can be lowered by exercise, better diet, and sometimes medication.
Cholesterol levels – HDL, or “good cholesterol,” can help prevent heart disease. LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, can lead to heart disease. Improve HDL levels by exercising regularly.
Tobacco Use – Cigarette smoking promotes atherosclerosis. Nicotine raises blood pressure and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that blood can carry. Even other people’s smoke can increase the risk of heart disease for nonsmokers.
Alcohol Use – Excessive alcohol use leads to increased blood pressure and can lead to atherosclerosis.
All of us can do a little more to reduce our risk of heart disease. We can’t ever be immune to heart disease, but we can do a lot to reduce our risk of ever getting it. Decide to make the changes today or tomorrow might not come.