There's a fun new way to explore what is without a doubt a very serious issue: heart disease.
It's the consumer-friendly Heart IQ website, and it makes it easy to examine your heart-disease risks, find heart-healthy foods and learn how to live a healthier life. The UT Southwestern Medical Center site is based on the latest research from the center's cardiologists and focuses on the three main factors surrounding heart disease: family, food and fitness. Knowing your family tree, for instance, can help identify whether you have an increased genetic risk for developing cardiovascular disease or related conditions.
The Heart IQ site also includes a heart-healthy "diet cheat sheet" that lists foods low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fats. It emphasizes that one's body mass index alone might not give a clear enough picture of heart disease risk, a finding published by UT Southwestern cardiologists in 2007. A stronger correlation for heart-disease risk is an individual's waist-to-hip ratio. The waist measurement limit at or just above your bellybutton for women is 35 inches; for men it's 40 inches.
Being physically fit lowers a person's lifetime risk of heart disease, even when other risk factors are present. The higher a person's fitness level in midlife, the lower the risk of cardiac death in one's lifetime.
The Heart IQ site has a lifetime risk calculator to raise your understanding of cardiovascular disease. Check it out at www.utsouthwestern.org/heartiq.
-- Jan Jarvis