Getting a Handle on Preventable Deaths from Heart Disease

285 HeartHealthyDietWhile campaigns such as American Heart Month in February and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women (goredforwomen.org) are effectively raising our awareness about heart disease and prevention, we still have work to do: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC/cdc.gov), each year at least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke in the United Sates are preventable. We can do our part to lower these numbers by learning about our risk and being proactive about our heart health.

Preventable means that we have the ability to lower our risk of heart disease and the number of cardiovascular-related deaths per year. And heart disease and stroke prevention may be a lot simpler than we realize. In fact, many of the CDC’s recommendations are basic healthy lifestyle habits that improve not just our heart health, but our overall health and well-being. So why wouldn’t we pay a little more attention to our lifestyle choices and further decrease of risk of heart disease?

Here are some heart-healthy reminders that, according to the CDC, may help reduce the number of annual cardiovascular deaths:

  • If you smoke, stop. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
  • Exercise regularly. As little as a brisk 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week has cardiovascular benefits.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in plant-based foods and low in sodium and trans fats.
  • Have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly and follow your doctor’s advice (including taking medication, if prescribed) for maintaining healthy levels of each.
  • Know the symptoms of a heart attack: pain in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain in the arms or shoulder; shortness of breath.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if you think you’re having a heart attack.

With more than 200,000 deaths from heart disease or stroke each year considered preventable, it’s clear that we have a great chance to lower these numbers. With education, awareness, and heart-health choices every day, we can each make a difference.