Fitness Facts: What you should know about heart disease
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. One in four Americans will be diagnosed with heart disease.
But here’s what is even more alarming: Most people believe that heart disease only happens to older adults, but statistics show that it is happening to young adults all too often.
What many people may not know is that heart disease may be prevented by making healthy choices. February is American Heart Month, which makes it a perfect time to assess your risk.
The top 3 risk factors include:
- High blood Pressure
- High cholesterol
Other factors that further increase your risk of heart disease are:
- Obesity: Extra weight puts stress on your heart and over time causes dysfunction and disease.
- Diabetes: This can cause sugar to build up in the blood and destroy the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart.
- Physical inactivity: As I have noted in earlier posts, sitting is the new smoking! See what the Mayo Clinic has to say.
- Unhealthy eating patterns: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2018), “Most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium (https://wcms-wp.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm)(https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm)(salt), which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. But only one in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. A diet high in transfat, saturated fat and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.
What can you do?
Well, it all starts with the determination to either prevent the disease or stop its progression:
Some simple changes can help:
- Don’t smoke.
- Manage your current health conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, by seeing a health provider routinely and sticking to the treatment plan.
- Make heart-healthy eating a priority: Make small changes first and add more along the way. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits and aim for low-sodium options. The DASH diet is a great way to start.
- Get active: Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks.
Assess your risk here.
Be good to your heart! It will thank you.
Also, spread the word to others! Let them know the risks of an unhealthy lifestyle. We are in this together!