Health Brief: The Heart Truth

You may be surprised to learn that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States; each year taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined. One out of every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, totaling 2,200 deaths every day. Someone in the United States has a heart attack every 34 seconds, and each minute, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease related event. Heart disease claims the lives of far too many Americans, and almost everyone has a friend or relative affected by this condition. While these statistics may be shocking to hear, a large proportion of heart-related diseases are caused by lifestyle choices– which gives you the power to make a change. Ninety percent of patients with heart disease have at least one of the following medical conditions and lifestyle choices that put them at a higher risk for heart disease: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cigarette smoking, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol use. With those risk factors in mind, 53 percent of U.S. adults are physically inactive, 34 percent are obese, 32 percent have high blood pressure, 21 percent smoke cigarettes, 15 percent have high cholesterol, and 11 percent have diabetes. Approximately 37 percent of U.S. adults have two or more of these risk factors. February is American Heart Month, and is the perfect time to get empowered about making healthy choices for yourself and your family. Making lifestyle choices that will help your ticker can be simple with a little will power. To protect yourself and your loved ones from heart disease, follow these simple health tips: 1. Eat a healthy diet full of foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in fiber (check out this month’s recipe for Turkey Burgers). 2. Maintain a healthy weight – you can determine what that should be by calculating your body mass index (BMI) to see if it is within a healthy range. Regular exercise can also help your to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, while lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days of the week. 3. Quit smoking or don’t even start! Cigarette smoking greatly increases your heart disease risk, so avoid tobacco use. 4. Limit your alcohol use. Too much alcohol consumption can cause high blood pressure. 5. Check your numbers - have your cholesterol and high blood pressure checked regularly by a healthcare provider. If you have medication to control either, be sure to take it as suggested. If you have diabetes, closely monitor your blood sugar levels and talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options. 6. Remember (and follow) the ABCS: Aspirin (for people at risk), Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation; to reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is a dangerous health condition that many U.S. adults are at a high risk for. If we work to spread awareness about heart disease and the healthy habits that can prevent it or reduce the risk, hopefully we can reduce heart disease’s deadly impact on our population. So practice heart-healthy habits and encourage your family and friends to do the same! References: “CDC Features - Heart Month.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2012. “CDC - Heart Disease Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 29 Apr. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. “CDC - Heart Disease Prevention: What You Can Do.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 16 Nov. 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2012.