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Heart disease remains leading cause of death in Missouri

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Missouri, according to a recent report published by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“There are many misconceptions about heart disease,” says board certified cardiologist, Haris Riaz, M.D., in practice at Citizens Memorial Hospital Heart Institute Clinic. “Many think that heart disease only affects the elderly, men or unhealthy people. The truth is cardiovascular disease can impact younger people, women and healthy individuals, especially if they have a family history.”

Research presented by The American College of Cardiology shows individuals who suffer a heart attack at a young age, one in five were 40 or younger and that number has risen 2% each year for the past decade.

Studies confirm the leading causes of cardiovascular disease include unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, high glucose, smoking and physical inactivity. Over time, these risk factors cause changes in the heart and blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.

“It’s extremely important to address risk factors early in life to prevent these devastating events and other potential complications of chronic cardiovascular disease,” Riaz explains. “Lifestyle changes can help you achieve ideal cardiovascular health.”


When you eat and serve heart-healthy meals, you improve the overall health of yourself and your family. Make smart choices, watch calories, eat smaller portions and cook at home. Increase your servings of vegetables, fruit and lean protein. For more information on creating better eating habits, contact the dietitians at CMH at 417-328-7957.

Manage Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys, which keeps you healthier longer. Track your blood pressure and ask your health care team how to understand what the levels mean. A normal blood pressure reading is systolic less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg.


When you lose unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Sit less and move more. If you aren’t able to lose weight successfully on your own, talk to your health care provider.

High Cholesterol

High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Track your cholesterol levels. If your doctor has prescribed statins or other medications to control your cholesterol, take your medication as directed.

High Glucose

Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Track your levels and follow health care provider recommendations. Looking for help managing your blood sugar levels? Visit with Heather Corn, M.D., in practice at CMH Endocrinology Center in Bolivar by calling 417-328-7000. Dr. Corn is board certified in Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism and Internal Medicine.


Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Within one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease goes down by half.

Physical Inactivity

Daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. Adults should get a weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. Children and teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

Cardiac Care at CMH

The CMH Heart Institute Clinic and CMH Cath Lab include three board-certified cardiologists, John F. Best, M.D., FACP, FACC, FSCAI, Stephen Davis, M.D., Haris Riaz, M.D., and nurse practitioner, Kyla Inman, NP-C.

Cardiovascular services at CMH includes an accredited Level II STEMI program with 24/7 cardiology availability.

Last year, CMH received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR Chest Pain Registry Platinum Achievement Award. CMH is one of only 212 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.

The CMH cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation program is nationally recognized and is designed to help heart and lung patients recover quickly from a heart-related surgery, a heart attack or diagnosis of heart or pulmonary disease.

For more information about cardiovascular services at CMH, call the CMH Information Center at 417-328-6010 or

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