American Heart Month is used to reinforce the importance of heart health and the need for more research, with a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved. It is a perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take to help your heart health.
Facts about Heart Disease:
- Heart disease includes various issues such as heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, and heart failure.
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) kills about 2,300 a day.
- Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.
- 83% believe that heart attacks can be prevented but aren’t motivated to do anything.
- 72% of Americans don’t consider themselves at risk for heart disease.
- 58% put no effort into improving their heart health.
Heart disease and the conditions that lead to it can happen at any age. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35-64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking). While science is advancing medicine in exciting new ways, unhealthy lifestyle choices combined with rising obesity rates in both children and adults have hindered progress fighting heart disease.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease:
- High blood pressure
- Millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, including millions of people in their 40s and 50s. About half of people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
- High blood cholesterol
- High cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease. Having diabetes and obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough physical activity can all contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
- More than 37 million U.S. adults are current smokers, and thousands of young people start smoking each day. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
- Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19—has obesity.
- Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. Nearly 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes.
- Physical inactivity
- Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Only 1 in 5 adults meets the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity.
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium (salt), which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. Only 1 in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. Diet high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.
The good news is that heart disease is preventable in most cases with healthy choices, which include not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week and getting regular checkups.
In honor of Heart Month, Physical Solutions will be posting a series of blogs about exercise routines and eating habits to help you become more heart healthy! Stay tuned for more information!