Take Steps to Keep Wyoming Hearts Healthy and Pumping

February 6, 2019

Take Steps to Keep Wyoming Hearts Healthy and Pumping

Older individuals are not the only ones who should learn about heart disease risks and take steps to keep their hearts healthy and pumping, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

“Heart disease is America’s leading cause of death and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us it is unfortunately happening to younger adults more frequently than in the past,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH.

“High obesity rates, high cholesterol and high blood pressure among younger people ages 35-64 are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life than we might expect,” Harrist said.

Harrist noted half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

According to 2017 Wyoming Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, 136,000 Wyoming men and women have been told they have high blood pressure. “We know about half of people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions such as stroke,” Harrist said.

Harrist said high blood cholesterol also increases the risk for heart disease. The 2017 Wyoming BRFSS data indicated 113,000 adults had been told they had high blood cholesterol. “Managing cholesterol early in life is key to lowering heart disease risk, but close to half of U.S. adults who need cholesterol medicine are currently not taking it,” Harrist said.

“High blood pressure and high cholesterol typically have no signs or symptoms, so the only way to know if you have these conditions is to get checked. We encourage people to talk with their healthcare providers about high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol risks and about what can lower or manage those risks,” Harrist said.

“We tell people they can also help prevent heart disease by eating healthfully, getting enough physical activity, not smoking and staying at a healthy weight,” Harrist said.

The WDH Chronic Disease Prevention Program works to reduce heart disease through partnerships with Wyoming public health offices, hospitals and community organizations. Information about the Wyoming Chronic Disease Prevention Program is available at https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/prevention/chronicdisease/.

More information about heart disease in general is available online at https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.