JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A new report put out by the CDC and National Center for Health Statistics says people are living longer. Women, on average, will live to be 81 years old and men 76 years old. While people are living longer, the leading causes of death are the same. Cancer and heart disease are still the leading causes of death among Americans.
Dr. Jaime Chavez, St. Bernards cardiologist, said he has seen many cases of heart disease in Region 8. The same goes for Dr. Mazen Khalil, St. Bernards oncologist.
Jim Bryant recently had open heart surgery and said it is scary. "When they talk about opening you up and getting your heart out and working on it, it will put fear in you."
Bryant had blockage in his heart valves. He said while he has always tried to be healthy, he realizes the importance of taking care of himself now even more. He performs cardiac rehab at St. Bernards Health and Wellness Center and said he is getting his strength back.
Dr. Chavez said steps like exercising and eating right are what it takes to prevent heart disease. But his goal is prevention. "The goal would be to treat patients before they develop the condition."
Dr. Chavez said it isn't always easy to get patients to make a change because they believe doctors can help them after a diagnosis.
"So even though we are able to provide quick and easy services, we do need to have our patients understand there has to be a change to prevent future events."
And as for cancer, Dr. Khalil also focuses on prevention and early detection. However, it isn't easy getting patients to make a change. "Unfortunately, changing lifestyle is not a simple task, it takes determination."
To protect yourself from getting heart disease and cancer, it is all about living a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Chavez and Dr. Khalil agreed a healthy diet, exercise, and watching blood pressure are important to remaining healthy.
Bryant said no matter what the age, it is never too early or too late to get healthy. He said, "Try your best to live right, and pray a lot. That's the main thing."