By JANAE HUBBLE
Utah County residents are suffering from a problem that may be preventable.
According to a report compiled by the Utah Department of Health, cardiovascular disease is taking the lives of many in Utah County. The report said the health district of Utah County ranks fourth out of 12 Utah health districts for cardiovascular disease.
UVRMC Chair of Cardiology Rodney Badger said characteristics like diabetes and cholesterol and habits like smoking and frequent fast food consumption contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Badger said people need to be aware of their lifestyles.
“You can always do more,” Badger said.
The survey showed out of every 100,000 people in Utah County, 140 of them will have some form of cardiovascular disease, but the state average was only 131 per 100,000 people.
Cardiovascular disease refers to diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Nationally, millions are affected in a variety of different forms such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and rheumatic heart disease.
There is no main cause for Utah County’s high ranking.
Susan Fullmer, an assistant professor of dietetics at BYU, said genetics and lifestyle contribute to heart problems and exercise, and a healthy diet can make a big difference.
“Moderate exercise and a low-fat diet high in fiber with fruits and vegetables will help with prevention,” Fullmer said.
Despite young age or a healthy background, everyone should begin preparing now.
“Prevention starts when you’re young. No one should hold off (living a healthy lifestyle). It may take 20 to 30 years for heart problems to develop,” Fullmer said.
A positive attitude can also help people stay healthy, said Ian Campbell, vice president of the American Institute of Research.
“If you feel you’re healthy, this actually helps the body’s immune system to fight off disease,” Campbell said.
According to Joseph Miner, executive director of the Utah County Health Department, many are already aware of prevention methods.
“Lots of people know what to do,” Miner said. “They know there’s a risk if they smoke, overeat and forget to exercise, but behavior doesn’t follow knowledge.”
Cardiovascular disease often doesn’t hit home until it is too late. Many get a false sense of security, Miner said.
“They think it will never happen to them,” he said.
The Utah County Health Department is trying to create awareness of existing problems. Miner recommends people check their blood pressure often and work on controlling it. He also advises people to exercise at least three time per week for a half hour.