Study Finds Half of Heart Disease Deaths Are Preventable
February is American Heart Month, a yearly reminder to protect your health and take care of your heart. According to the 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update, an annual report on national and global heart health, more than 800,000 lives were lost to cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, in the United States in 2013. Globally, cardiovascular diseases accounted for 31% of all deaths, making it the number one killer worldwide.
Though the statistics are ugly, the future does not have to be. A 2015 study from Emory University found that five modifiable risk factors—high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and smoking—were to blame for about 50% of the deaths from cardiovascular disease in American adults aged 45 to 79 years from 2009 to 2010. This suggests we have the power to cut the death toll from this cause in half.
The American Heart Association recommends following Life’s Simple 7 for better health: manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, lose weight and stop smoking. Though the country has seen a 30% drop in smoking since 1998, we have a long way to go when it comes to diet and exercise. The 2016 report found one in three adults reported no physical activity outside of work, and only 1.5% of adults eat an ideal diet in the U.S.
Poor lifestyle behaviors are the primary causes of death and disability in the United States and in the world, but these are the factors that we have control over. Do your part in the fight against heart disease this month by striving to eat a little healthier—more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts and less red meat and saturated fats— and move a little more—biking, jogging, hiking, or other activities to get your heart rate up.
Need some ideas on which foods to add to your diet? Support your cardiovascular health by adding beets, tomatoes, apples, cocoa and strawberries this February and all year round. Your heart will love you for it.
Published February 1, 2016