Lexington lagging in heart health; Study shows Fayette County has biggest increase in deaths

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 18:35:57-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The term, “be still my beating heart” is one you might not want to use around Lexington these days.

In a recent study published by The Wall Street Journal, Lexington has seen the biggest increase in the mortality rate for heart disease of any city in the country.

“Unfortunately, it’s not a big surprise that Kentucky struggles to keep up,” said Dr. Vedant Gupta, a cardiologist and advanced cardiovascular imaging specialist at UK Hospital.

Poor diet, and lack of exercise are some of the obvious reasons Gupta cites for this uptick, which is being seen nationwide, and shockingly in patients in only their 30s and 40s.

Smoking, especially in Kentucky, remains a leading cause of heart disease.

“We know smoking is the single biggest reversable cause for, not only heart disease, but cancer and lung disease as well,” Gupta said.

Dr. Gupta also eluded to another issue, which hurt Fayette County’s numbers; people are moving to Lexington and bringing their smoking habit with them.

“The demographics of Kentucky are changing,” he said. “Some of the patients we’re seeing were living in rural eastern Kentucky, or southern and western Kentucky and they’re moving for job purposes to Lexington and Louisville.”

There are so many things that can be done for the heart once you have symptoms, or even after surviving a heart attack, that Gupta said it’s become easier to treat, than it is to stave off.

“We have very good medications, we have very good procedures we can do, whether it’s stents, or bypasses to help people live longer,” he said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t done nearly as good of a job with preventing heart disease,” he continued.

Younger people are presenting with diabetes and high blood pressure, which Dr. Gupta said can lead to heart disease.

He also said the best thing anyone can do for their heart is to quit smoking. Beyond that, he suggests a diet that is loaded with fruits and vegetables, and low on processed foods. It’s also important to know your family history.

“If you had a parent who had a heart attack at 45, you want to get (screened) at 35, or even 30,” he said.

And he urges people to be active, and it doesn’t even have to be at a very intense level.

“Get up and walk a little bit. Take a walk every day, even if it’s for five minutes or 10 minutes, and build up to something that’s a more vigorous exercise program,” he said.