Heart disease: who does it affect & how to prevent it

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-February is American Heart month- a time when we turn our attention to heart disease.

“It’s the number one killer and unfortunately it impacts 1 in 3 individuals,” said American Heart Association Kentuckiana Chapter Executive Director Ashlyn Sokoler. 

Heart disease can affect anyone, but women are one of the most vulnerable populations. 

“Heart disease is the number one killer of women. More than 44% of women ages 20 and older are living with some sort of cardiovascular disease and don’t know it,” said Sokoler. 

Proactive steps you can take are eating healthy, daily exercising, and seeing a doctor regularly- .make sure you’re paying attention to your own health. 

“As women, I can say as a woman, I don’t take care of myself or prioritize myself. We take care of others first, generally speaking,” said Sokoler. 

Another perhaps surprising population affected by heart conditions… newborns. 

“Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect we see in the United States. It accounts for about 1 in every 100 live births so it’s very common,” said Dr. Lucinda Wright with Norton Children’s Heart Institute. 

It typically can’t be prevented. However, sometimes the disease can be detected when the baby is still inside the womb. 

“Most of the research on the incidence of congenital heart disease lends us to think that it’s a multifactorial ideology meaning there’s no one thing that causes it. We know based on studies with families that there’s definitely a genetic component,” said Dr. Wright. 

Norton Healthcare and the American Heart Association continue their mission to prevent and treat heart disease.