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Congratulations to the Southern Wells Track Team!

Congratulations to the Southern Wells Track Team for being this week's Bluffton Regional Medical Center's Student Athletes of the week! Sophomore Grant Harris set a new school record in the discus. Harris shared the record with older brother Chase prior to last night's throw. Their previous shared record was a throw of 155'5". Grant's new school record now stands at 163'6". Keep an eye on Harris as he looks to further this as the track season continues. 

Start Early to Prevent Heart Disease
Especially if You Have a Family History



It’s February and that means it’s American Heart Month. Before you skip this article, ask yourself – no matter what your age – is there a history of heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure in my family? Have any relatives died from a stroke or a heart attack?

Your family’s history of heart disease is a major indicator of your own risk; but history doesn’t have to repeat itself. The good news is, armed with this knowledge, you can take control of your own health, maintain a healthy heart, and prevent heart disease.

You Family History

If you have a brother or father who was diagnosed with heart disease before age 55 or a sister or mother diagnosed with heart disease prior to the age of 65, you’re considered to have an increased risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.  Having a relative die of heart complications before age 60 doubles your own risk of premature heart disease, according to a study in the Journal of American College of Cardiology. And if it’s a parent or sibling, your risk increases 72%. If there are two or more premature cardiovascular deaths, your risk increases two-fold compared to just one.

If a family member has or had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or atherosclerosis (a build-up of fat in the arteries), you may also be at increased risk of heart disease.

Know your Numbers

For people with a family history of cardiovascular disease, it’s important to see a doctor before symptoms arise. It’s critical to be aware of risk factors. The numbers to be aware of are cholesterol levels, blood pressure and waist size.

High cholesterol and high blood pressure put you at risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. If you have a family history of heart disease, cholesterol testing and blood pressure checks should begin as early as your twenties, to help determine if your levels are in the normal range. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, especially if you carry your weight in your belly. Your doctor will be able to measure and evaluate all of these health indicators for you.

Knowing your heart-health numbers is the first step to preventing heart disease; having them checked regularly is equally important. If you have elevated numbers or other signs of heart disease, follow your doctor’s prevention and treatment recommendations to help lower your risk. This may include medications and lifestyle changes, including a more heart-healthy diet and increased aerobic exercise. According to the AHA, if test results show your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are normal, getting a check-up about every three to five years is sufficient, up to age 40. After age 40, the frequency with which your doctor recommends you be screened for disease will depend on your other risk factors.

Breaking the Family Pattern

Your heart disease risk is mostly in your hands – regardless of family history – and several lifestyle changes should be maintained for a healthy heart:

  • Don't smoke
  • Limit alcohol to a moderate amount (no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink for women)
  • Eat lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; and limit trans and saturated fats, salt, and sugar
  • Incorporate aerobic exercise and strength training into your daily routine
  • Know and track your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers
  • Lose excess weight
  • Control health conditions that increase heart disease risk, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes

You don’t have to inherit heart disease if you take steps to ensure a healthy heart.  If you are over 40 and have any of the risk factors discussed above, take a few minutes out of your busy schedule for a CardioRisk scan.  The procedure takes less than 10 minutes, costs just $50* and can detect the early stages of coronary artery disease.  To schedule your scan, call Bluffton Regional at (260) 919-3830.  To learn more about CardioRisk, visit


*Payment required at time of service.


Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip you with information to facilitate conversations with your physician.


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