February is National Heart Month! Your heart serves as one of the command centers of your body, delivering blood throughout your system and keeping all of your vital functions running. So what happens when your heart isn’t working as it is supposed to? When you are affected by heart disease, it actually can set you up to have ailments that may appear in other areas of your body.
The American Heart Association defines heart disease somewhat broadly. It can include plaque buildup in the arteries that can lead to heart attack or stroke, heart failure when the heart is not pumping blood properly, an irregular heartbeat known as arrhythmia, or heart valve problems that can lead to improper circulation. Heart disease can have many causes, the most common and well known being high blood pressure, diabetes, frequent smoking and alcohol use, drug abuse, stress, and certain over the counter or prescription medications. Heart disease can also be due to congenital heart defects. Unfortunately, if you’re affected with heart disease, it doesn’t always stop there. It can actually increase your risk for other diseases like colon cancer.
A study done at the University of Hong Kong discovered a relationship between heart disease and colon cancer. Colon cancer was found in about 4% of patients with heart disease, in comparison to the only 1% patients without heart disease. Colon cancer and heart disease have several common risk factors, which can account for some of the overlap, but the numbers were significant enough for researchers to make that correlation.
What Can I Do?
While a healthy lifestyle isn’t a guaranteed free pass to not having heart disease or colon cancer, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Maintaining a healthy body weight, getting frequent exercise, eating healthy, not smoking, and regulating alcohol usage is a good place to start. You should also learn about medical tests that can detect cancer early on, as it is easier to treat if caught early. If you do fall into a risk category, talk to one of the doctors at GI Associates about what you can do to lessen your chance of a diagnosis. Don’t put it off - make an appointment today!