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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating habits’

February brings to mind Valentine hearts of love, but when it comes to the human heart, the month is so much more. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February as American Heart Month. At the time, nearly half of deaths in America resulted from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although today that number has decreased to about one in four, CVD claims 17.9 million lives worldwide each year. About 2,300 Americans die of CVD each day for an average of one death every 38 seconds.

While medical advances improve quality of life, heart disease continues to be a threat. For 2018 the focus is on younger adults ages 35 to 64. In many areas, deaths rates from heart disease in this age range are increasing, perhaps as a result of soaring risk factors. Lifestyle changes can alter these statistics. Several situations, both medical and environmental, influence the risk of CVD including:

  • Obesity: More than two-thirds of the American population are overweight with at least half of those considered as obese. Extra weight puts stress on the heart.
  • Diabetes: Sugar (glucose) build up in the blood can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart.
  • Physical Exercise: Sufficient activity keeps heart and blood vessels healthy. Physical exercise is a natural mood lifter and enhances body fitness. It helps to lower blood pressure, boost HDL (good) cholesterol, improve circulation, keep weight under control, and prevent bone loss (osteoporosis). Only about 20 percent of Americans meet recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week.
  • Healthier eating habits: Not only do Americans eat too much resulting in weight problems, most continue to make poor choices in their selection of foods. Foods high in sugar, salt, and trans and saturated fats can contribute to CVD.
  • Smoking: While a known culprit for lung disease, smoking directly damages blood vessels and impacts conditions contributing to CVD. While progress has been made in helping to reduce smoking among Americans, more than 37 million U. S. adults continue to use this unhealthy substance. Even worse, thousands of young people each day take up the habit.
  • Blood pressure: Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for CVD. Because nearly three-fourths of individuals are unaware they have hypertension, it is often referred to as the silent killer. Approximately half the people with diagnosed hypertension fail to sustain a normal blood pressure. Adhering to heart medications prescribed by your physician more readily assures a healthy heart.

Many deaths from CVD could be prevented through education and action. Make the 2018 American Heart Month the time to change to a healthier lifestyle and prevent becoming the next CVD statistic.

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