It’s all about the heart!

Still Number 1!

Baby boomers and seniors, take notice!  Despite years of public health efforts to curb this epidemic, the statistics remain alarming: heart disease is still the #1 killer in the nation, claiming 600,000 lives each year–approximately one in four deaths.

According to the American Heart Association, for younger boomers, more than 10% of women and 20% of men suffer from heart disease. Over age 80, those numbers increase to more than 18% of women and 34% of men.  About 80% of folks who die from heart disease are 65+.  And associated costs soar above $100 billion annually!

“Heart disease” is a category of disorders involving the heart and blood vessels (coronary heart disease, or CHD, and stroke). CHD develops over time, with a narrowing or blockage of heart blood vessels caused by a build-up of plaque (fat and cholesterol). Think of muck gradually accumulating inside a hose, and eventually bursting and blocking the flow of water. This is what happens to blood vessels leading to the heart—eventually they don’t allow enough oxygen-rich blood to nourish this vital organ. The result can be a heart attack.

Are you at risk?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, risk factors for heart disease include:
• High blood pressure
• High blood cholesterol
• Diabetes and prediabetes
• Unhealthy diet
• Being overweight or obese
• Being physically inactive
• Smoking
• Having a family history of early heart disease*
• Having a history of preeclampsia during pregnancy*
• Age (55 or older for women)*

*Risk factors you cannot control or modify.

Lifestyle changes make an impact

healthy fruit & vegetablesHere are a few behavior changes that will lessen your risk of developing heart disease:
1) Stop smoking—Chemicals in smoke will damage heart tissue and blood vessels. But if you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease approximates that of non-smokers within five years.
2) Become active—Exercise 30 minutes most days of the week will boost heart-health.
3) Watch your weight—A decrease in weight of only 5 – 10% will decrease your overall risk for heart disease.
4) Get control of your blood pressure, blood sugar (diabetes), and cholesterol levels—These all increase the risk of heart disease.
5) Consume a healthy diet—increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, healthy fats, and fish; cut down on sodium (salt), overall fat intake, and high-fat meats and dairy products.

What changes have you made recently to become more heart-healthy? Please respond in the area below.

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