My mother, a heart and kidney patient, is not unique. As we age, we become much more susceptible to all kinds of ailments. However, lifestyle also plays a very important role in the potential of having a healthy heart. Here are some statistics and facts about heart disease, provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. A staggering 610,000 people die of heart disease every year. That is 1 in 4 deaths.
- There are about 735,000 heart attacks in the US every year.
- Knowing signs and symptoms of a heart attack is key to early emergency treatment, which raises the possibility of survival. Only 27% of respondents in a 2005 survey knew all the warning signs of a heart attack. (For a list of heart attack signs and symptoms, plus other heart facts, click the link www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm )
- Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) kills over 370,000 people a year. It is the leading type of heart disease.
Are you at risk? That depends. Some factors are unchangable, such as:
- Age: Men age 45 plus and women age 55 plus have greater chances of developing heart disease
- Race or ethnicity
- Family History
The good news is, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. Some are listed below:
- Good blood pressure control: High blood pressure increases the potential for heart disease exponentially. Make sure you check your blood pressure regularly. Control your blood pressure with lifestyle changes (such as diet, exercise, stress reduction) and medication if necessary.
- Keep your weight down: Being overweight is a major contributor to heart disease. This is because it raises the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of these factors, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Eat healthy and get regular exercise: eat foods that lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, such as many fruits and vegetables, unsaturated fats, and lower amounts of sodium and sugar. Exercising adds to your health benefits by increasing circulation, strengthening your heart, lowering blood pressure and maintaining a good weight.
- Manage diabetes: High blood sugar can eventually cause damage to the heart's blood vessels and nerves. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
- Get sleep! High blood pressure, obesity and diabetes risks all increase when you don't get enough sleep. Try to get between 7 - 9 hours a night.
Heart disease does not have to be a given. With proper care and lifestyle change, you can have a healthy heart and a long, productive life.
Sources (Click on the links to read articles in their entirety):
"Heart Disease Facts," Center for Disease Control and Prevention
"How to Prevent Heart Disease," Medline Plus