February is Heart Health Month, and there is no better time to focus on one of the most important organs in the human body. The statistics about heart disease are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease, and approximately 647,000 people die from heart-related issues every year.
Heart disease is a broad term referring to a variety of conditions that can affect your heart, and the threat they pose is not limited by age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. According to the CDC, 30.1 million adults have been diagnosed with heart disease in the U.S. alone as of 2018, with heart attacks occurring every 40 seconds. Approximately half of all Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease.
The top risks and behaviors that are associated with heart disease are:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- physical inactivity
- unhealthy eating habits
- smoking/alcohol use
Although heart disease is the leading cause of death of both men and women in the United States, it is preventable. According to DoSomething.org, living a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chance of a heart attack and stroke by 80%. On average, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can add up to ten years to a person’s life. To avoid these issues, it is essential to understand the preventive approaches that you can take to ensure a healthy heart.
Here are a few ways you can reduce the risk of heart-related diseases and help others around you:
Be Active and Proactive
Living a healthy and active lifestyle is crucial not only to lower your chance of heart-related issues, but also to improve your quality of life. You can lower your risks through many activities, including biking, swimming, aerobics, weight training, or even just taking a walk outside.
Along with an active lifestyle, it is also important to eat smart. Giving your body the proper macronutrients and micronutrients it needs can help you along your journey. You can also give your heart the boost that it needs by drinking the adequate amount of water per your body weight and taking supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and fiber..
With heart-related diseases such a concern at any age, it is important to become as knowledgeable as you can. Besides staying active and eating healthy, it’s also important to make sure to regularly monitor your health. Go to checkups with your doctor, write in a daily log, and limit stress to add to your lifestyle. Last but not least, stay informed – being educated is the best way to know the signs and prevent them from becoming a problem.
For more information on heart health and how to begin a healthier lifestyle, visit capitalhealth.com.
Mary Jane Tucker, MD is a family medicine physician with Capital Health Plan.