WXXI AM News

Increasing Awareness Saves Lives

Feb 3, 2012

February 3rd is National Wear Red Day.

It's designed to promotes heart disease awareness and according to health officials at Highland Hospital, 1 in 5 people do not have their hearts checked every year by a physician as advised.

Dr. Chad Teeters is the Chief of Cardiology at Highland Hospital.

"The goal now is to try to prevent heart disease from ever occurring, not just keeping people from dying from it."

Dr. Teeters says 20% of Americans suffer from heart disease, which is caused by factors that are preventable. He says regular check-ups are not only good for your health but the state's wallet too.

"Hypertension and diabetes are two modifiable risk factors and probably account for almost 3 quarters of a billion dollars a piece in unnecessary medical costs a year. This means, if folks were aware and had their blood pressure and diabetes treated appropriately, we could probably reduce health care costs by almost a billion and a half dollars just from those two diagnosis alone," says Dr. Teeters.

According to Dr. Teeters, women are more prone to developing heart disease because they do not have overt symptoms. He says often women miss the early signs simply because they're not immediately noticeable.

"By the time women hit menopause and are about 55 years old,  we see heart disease factors increase exponentially. And women's risk of developing heart disease and dying at 55-60 years old eventually approaches and exceeds that of men."

According to Dr. Teeters, studies show women at the age of 45 with two or more risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes have a 30% chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

To help prevent heart attack and stroke, adults ages 25 and older should get their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and body mass index checked every year by a physician.

On February 13th, Highland hospital will offer free health screenings to men and women.