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Heart Health Prevention

Calculating a Heart Risk Score

A heart risk score is an important result I share with my heart health coaching clients. It’s not something I calculate on the first visit. Instead, it’s something we aggregate over time.

The current heart risk scores don’t apply to all patients and certainly don’t account for all known heart disease factors.

A risk score should be something actionable, empowering. Not a data point that induces fear or paralyzes the individual.

Heart Risk Score

A sedentary, obese 17-year-old videogame player who eats a processed diet will have a low score, mostly because her age is highly protective. Her risk score is low, which means her risk for heart disease is low.

There hasn’t been enough time for inflammation or atherosclerosis to take effect.

The risk score has several factors I take into consideration but each risk factor carries a different weight.

A thin, active smoker who eats a healthy diet will have a very low heart risk score because the other factors are quite protective. More protective than the negative effects of the smoking habit.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

Most of my health coaching clients already know the most common risk factors:

  • age
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • obesity
  • family history
  • nicotine
  • sedentary

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. To dive in deeper, I want to factor in other heart risk score factors as well.

  • high-stress
  • low heart rate variability
  • central adiposity
  • insomnia
  • autoimmune disease
  • air pollution
  • diet
  • muscle mass
  • hydration level
  • medication use
  • noise pollution
  • substance use
  • alcohol use
  • coping strategies
  • sleep apnea

Using the Score

What’s the use of a score if it just makes you fearful. The purpose of the score is to create awareness, empowerment, and spark action.

If obesity is the biggest factor, then we might address that first. But if it’s the hardest factor for the client to change, then, we’ll focus on other high-risk factors instead.

There is no one-size-fits-all. Each one of us is unique. Everything we do matters and our health is perpetually evolving.

Categories
Heart Health

What is Heart Health

It’s important that my clients understand the definition of heart health. This concept can allow you to live a rather comfortable and disease-free life. Or your poor cardiovascular health can get you stuck in the revolving door of healthcare. So, what is heart health? How will it affect you?

Importance of Heart Health

I first encountered the phrase heart health when consulting for a healthcare startup. They focused on managing high blood pressure, which alone was one of the leading causes of heart disease.

#hearthealth fascinates me because the heart plays a central role in overall health. With most pediatric diseases wiped out and antibiotics readily available most of us will make it well into our forties.

With heart-healthy choices, it’s quite likely to make it well into your 80s. A healthy heart can even help prevent other chronic diseases such as cancers or diabetes.

It’s in our forties that poor cardiovascular health can have major health effects. For example, high blood pressure can cause heart failure, kidney disease, or heart attacks.

If you managed to dodge hypertension, you might still face blood vessel diseases such as a heart attack from atherosclerosis or peripheral vascular disease.

Women are at risk of strokes as they age and men at risk of myocardial infarctions and erectile dysfunction.

A Healthy Heart

The heart is at the center of the cardiovascular system and therefore controls everything downstream. This includes the blood vessels and the organs it supplies.

Living with a healthy heart is mostly about prevention; preventing extra strain on the heart and preventing poor cardiac output.

Starting our 40s with a healthy heart means that we can live longer and live a better life. Which is a life with less disease, fewer medications, and fewer visits to the doctor.

Measuring Heart Health

In our modern age of data, it’s common to want to know metrics. So my clients look for a way to quantify the health of their hearts.

There are heart scores we can calculate based on your family history and current cardiovascular health. But achieving a healthy heart requires strong preventative strategies.

Prevention

Fortunately, it’s never too late to start on prevention. Regardless of where you are in your #hearthealth journey, it’s always possible for things to improve or worsen.

Our lifestyle choices strongly impact our heart performance. These choices can be modified one step at a time resulting in a cumulative positive effect on the cardiovascular system.

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