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Indiana Ranks High for Heart Disease Among Men and Women

More than 250,000 people in the Hoosier State have heart disease

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coronary heart disease (CHD) - the most common type of heart disease -  is the country's number one cause for both men and women and the leading cause of death in Indiana.

Dr. David Goff, Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says the Hoosier state is the fifth-worst state for coronary heart disease. West Virginia is the state with the most deaths caused by CHD. 

"We know that part of the country where the states border the Ohio-Mississippi rivers are the states that have the highest rates of heart disease," Goff said. "We sometimes call that 'coronary valley'." 

According to Goff, there are several reasons why heart disease is so severe in the Midwest and South. People in those states tend to smoke cigarettes more often and tend to have lifestyles that are less healthy - pertaining to diet and the level of physical activity.

"If people can work up to getting about a half hour a day of moderate activity like brisk walking, that can go a long way to reduce the risk and improve your overall health," he suggested.

"In Indiana, over 250,000 people have heart disease and that's a lot of people," said Goff. "One out of four people in Indiana will die from heart disease and about half of adults in Indiana will suffer a heart event during their life."

A number of heart problems can be prevented by making small lifestyle changes.

"Things like, don't smoke and avoid people who do smoke because second-hand smoke is bad for you, eat a healthier diet, and move more, get more activity," he said. "See your doctor, learn about your risk and follow your doctor's advice to lower that risk. Heart disease can be prevented and heart disease can be treated."

His advice on a healthier diet: eat real food. Mostly, fruits and vegetables. "If you're buying food at the store and there are six or seven or more ingredients on the label and you can't pronounce them, that's probably not real food," he said. 

Another? Watching your portion size. Dr. Goff suggests when you put food on a plate, make sure you see a little bit of plate underneath the food. "Use more herbs and spices to flavor your food and back away from the salt. Salt is a really important factor that raises blood pressure," he adds.

The risk of heart disease is higher in older adults, but the process to prevent starts as early as childhood. "It's never too early to do something to reduce your risk, and the good news is, it's never too late," Goff said. "Even in older age, there are important things we can do to reduce the risk of heart disease."

For those who already have heart disease, Dr. Goff says it's really important for patients to see their doctor, get a good examination and assessment, and follow your doctor's advice. Some examples of the things your doctor might recommend are medications to lower cholesterol levels, and/or medications to lower blood pressure or to take an aspirin. 

For the last 50 years, the U.S. has seen a dramatic decline in deaths related to heart disease, all thanks to research that has advanced prevention and treatment options. However, just last year, the number of Americans, including Hoosiers, who are dying of heart disease increased for the first time in more than a decade.


(Photo by Brian A. Jackson/Thinkstock)

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