Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Victoria is not immune from 'silent killer'

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Nov. 19, 2012 at 5:19 a.m.

Heart disease is often known as "the silent killer." In the past few weeks, Victoria has seen two influential community members experience heart attacks.

First was the loss of Chief Deputy Terry Simons to a heart attack on the morning of Nov. 7. Then, it was reported Nov. 11 that former Victoria Police Department Chief Bruce Ure experienced a heart attack earlier in the week while on a Disney cruise with his wife. Fortunately, Ure is recovering, and we are glad he was able to get the medical care he needed, including being in contact with Dr. Yusuke Yahagi and Dr. John McNeill in Victoria while he was still in Mexico.

These two incidents remind us how much of a health risk heart disease can be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 people in the United States die every year from heart disease, which equates to one in four deaths. It is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S., with more than half of the deaths being men.

This is a widespread problem that will likely touch everyone at some point in their lives, whether it is experiencing problems themselves or losing a friend or family member. Because it is such a problem, we encourage everyone to learn the risks and warning signs associated with heart disease.

There are several major warning signs that indicate a person may be having a heart attack: chest pain or discomfort; upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or upper stomach; shortness of breath; nausea; lightheadedness or cold sweats. We recommend everyone know these warning signs and learn what to do if someone is experiencing these symptoms.

However, knowing the warning signs of a heart attack is not a true solution to the problem. We would rather see people taking preventative action. If a person waits until a heart attack is happening, it may already be too late. Residents should learn the risk factors that could lead to a heart attack. If the risks are addressed, it decreases the chance a person has of facing a heart attack later in life. Here are some of the risks, as defined by the CDC: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, being overweight or obese, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption and family history of heart disease.

The CDC says about half of Americans have at least three of these risk factors. We encourage all of our readers to take the time to visit a doctor about their heart health. When a medical condition is that prevalent, how can we afford to ignore it?

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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