It may be surprising to learn that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. With everything we know about health and lifestyle factors 630,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. Heart disease is not discriminatory, it effects all ethnic groups.
In the U.S., the cost of heart disease health care is just about 200 billion dollars a year. This cost includes medications, health care and loss of work productivity. (1, 2)
There are numerous factors that contribute to heart disease such as: (3)
- Age (55 or older)
- Alcohol use
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Overweight or obese
- Physically inactive
- Unhealthy diet
Our Lifestyle Choices Matter
It is encouraging to know that making healthy lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on your health. A long term study of 20,721 men set out to see just how true that statement is. The goal of this study was to determine if a low risk diet and healthy lifestyle choices would have a positive impact on heart disease.
The participants had no history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol levels and were monitored from 1997 to 2009. (2)
The low risk factors they encouraged during the study included; a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 g/day), no smoking, being physically active (walking or bicycling more than 40 minutes a day and exercising more than 1 hour per week) and having a waist circumference of less than 95 cm or 37.40 inches.
The results were astounding, by adopting these five lifestyle choices, the risk of heart disease was reduced by 80%.
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Although this study focused on men, Dr. Nancy K. Sweitzer states that these five lifestyle changes can also be applied to women. (4)
Top 5 Habits to Help Prevent Heart Disease
Let’s look at those five low risk factors. (2, 4) While it’s a short list it, may be overwhelming for someone to make all of these changes at one time. There are a couple of ways to look at this list. The first is: What is the easiest thing(s) for you to change? What can you choose to change and be successful at? The other option is to choose the item(s) that will have the greatest positive impact on your health. Whichever path you choose, it’s important to take the first step for positive life change.
So how exactly do these changes add up to risk reduction?
- Healthy Diet – 18% risk reduction. This includes a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish and reduced fat dairy products.
- Being Physically Active – 3% risk reduction. (walking or bicycling more than 40 minutes a day and exercising more than 1 hour per week)
- Healthy Waist circumference – 12% risk reduction (37 inches or less for men, 35 inches or less for women)
- Moderate alcohol – 11% risk reduction (less than 2 drinks a day for men, one drink for women)
- Not Smoking – This can decrease your risk by 36%
Ready to make a life-saving choice?
Heart disease does not discriminate, it can affect all people.
Healthy lifestyle choices can have a positive impact on your overall health.
It may be a challenge to make some of these changes…you are worth it!
While only 1% of the study population adhered to all 5 changes in the study, even making 1 or 2 changes can have huge benefits to your health.
Health is a lifestyle and choosing health is the most proactive and positive change you can make.
(1) CDC WONDER FAQ Help Contact Us WONDER Search. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html
(2) Akesson, A., Larsson, S. C., Discacciati, A., & Wolk, A. (2014, September 30). Low-risk diet and lifestyle habits in the primary prevention of myocardial infarction in men: A population-based prospective cohort study. Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25257629
(3) What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?, HHS, NIH, NHLBI. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/risk-factors.htm
(4) Five Ways to Reduce Heart Attack Risk by 80 Percent. (n.d.). Retrieved November 27, 2018, from https://heart.arizona.edu/heart-health/prevention/five-ways-reduce-heart-attack-risk-80-percent
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