The American Heart Association

The statistics for heart disease and stroke are staggering, but preventing heart disease is simple: eat a healthy diet, control your blood pressure and cholesterol, don’t smoke and exercise regularly.

Easier said than done, unfortunately, otherwise Christy Jefferson, area director for the American Heart Association’s Northern Nevada office would be out of a job.

The Northern Nevada office is one of 2,000 affiliates of the American Heart Association, which was founded in 1924 by six cardiologists in New York City.

Jefferson says the Northern Nevada affiliate, a nonprofit, voluntary health organization, which is funded by private contributions, is lucky to have a good cardiac program in the area “so we can invest our dollars locally.

“We have invested over $3.3 million at the University of Nevada School of Medicine,” she says, adding that the National Institute of Health just awarded the school a five-year, $9.24 grant to establish a center for research and study of heart disease.

The mission of the American Heart Association is to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases. Since you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, knowing whether if you’re at risk can help you change certain aspects of your lifestyle to remain healthy.

To determine if you are at risk, the American Heart Association recommends taking the following quiz:

Your AGE may increase your risk if…

• You are a man over 45 years old.

• You are a woman over 55 years old, OR you have passed menopause or had your ovaries removed and are not taking estrogen.

Your FAMILY HISTORY may increase your risk if…

• Your father or brother had a heart attack before age 55 OR your mother or sister had one before age 65.

• You have a close blood relative who had a stroke.

Cigarette and tobacco SMOKE increases your risk if…

• You smoke, or live or work with people who smoke every day.

Your total CHOLESTEROL and HDL cholesterol levels may increase your risk if…

• Your total cholesterol level is 240 mg/dL or higher.

• Your HDL ("good") cholesterol level is less than 35 mg/dL.

• You don’t know your total cholesterol or HDL levels.

Your BLOOD PRESSURE may increase your risk if…

• Your blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, OR you’ve been told that your blood pressure is too high.

• You don’t know what your blood pressure is.

PHYSICAL INACTIVITY may increase your risk if…

• You get less than a total of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.

Excess BODY WEIGHT may increase your risk if…

• You are 20 pounds or more overweight for your height and build.

DIABETES increases your risk if…

• You have diabetes OR a fasting blood sugar of 126mg/dL or higher, OR you need medicine to control your blood sugar.

Your MEDICAL HISTORY may increase your risk if…

• You have coronary heart disease, or you’ve had a heart attack.

• You’ve been told that you have carotid artery disease, OR you’ve had a stroke or TIA, OR you have a disease of the leg arteries.

If you checked two or more boxes, the America Heart Association recommends seeing a healthcare provider for a thorough assessment of your risks. (source:

Christy Jefferson is gearing up for one of the Northern Nevada chapter’s big fund-raising events: the Fantasy Wedding Faire. In the last 13 years, $350,000 has been raised to support research and community education programs that focus on heart disease and stroke.

For more information, contact Christy Jefferson at (775) 322-7065 or visit the American Heart Association at For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, contact Molly Dillon at (775) 786-1881.