Protecting the heart - Marinscope Community Newspapers : Lifestyles & Entertainment

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Protecting the heart

Healthy Marin

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2013 11:06 am | Updated: 11:08 am, Thu Jan 31, 2013.

Like it or not Marin County is aging.

In fact it’s the fastest aging county in California with one of four residents older than 60, according to the Marin Community Foundation. By 2030, those 60 and older residents will constitute more than 30 percent of the county’s population, an increase of 45 percent from 2002-2012.

So what does this have to do with heart disease? Everything.

“Men in Marin County are enjoying longer lives due to better live style choices, which result in lower levels of smoking, healthier diets and more exercise,” said Joel Sklar, MD and chief medical officer of Marin General Hospital, who is also one of my cardiologists. “Also, men in Marin County enjoy better overall health, especially heart health, compared to their counterparts in most of California and the nation.”

However, the reality is that men who are aging alone have a risk factor for heart disease, even if you are taking care of yourself. It is worth taking time, according to Sklar, to understand some of the most common heart-related risk factors, problems and available treatments.

One of the most common problems in aging men, as a risk factor for heart disease, is a symptom called Erectile Dysfunction (ED), said Sklar, who has been a practicing cardiologist in Marin for over 30 years.

Atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries with cholesterol, may be an impetus for poor blood flow causing ED in men. Cramps in legs, aches in muscles, calves or buttocks may be a sign of poor circulation. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) might also be the cause of poor circulation in men.

According to Sklar, assistant clinical professor at UCSF Department of Cardiology, “preventing coronary heart disease and stroke, reducing risks to prevent high cholesterol and smoking have an extraordinary impact on the lives of Marin men.”

To prevent more than 400,000 heart disease related deaths in the United States men must have annual checkups to prevent, treat and detect heart disease and stroke -- the number-one cause of death in the nation.

Some heart health recommendations are as follows:

• Get your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

• Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit now!

• Eat a healthy diet. Enjoy foods that are low in fat, low in cholesterol and low in sodium (salt).

• Be physically active. Try to get 30 minutes of moderate activity each day.

Recognize and treat Diabetes-Erectile Dysfunction (ED). It may be a symptom of diabetes.

• Do not stop taking your medicines without first talking to your physician.

• Don’t drink too much alcohol. More than one or two drinks a day may increase blood pressure.

• Have annual medical checkups. The costs should be covered by Medicare for men over 65.

• Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Live a healthier lifestyle. Every life we save will be treasured.

Fred Mayer, R.Ph., MPH, lives in Terra Linda. He is the president of Pharmacist Planning Services, Inc (PPSI), a nonprofit public health, consumer and pharmacist organization and previous owner of Sausalito Pharmacy. For more information, contact Mayer at ppsi@aol.com or visit ppsinc.org.

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