“Take Charge! February is Heart Disease Awareness and Prevention Month, and an excellent time to take charge of your health and make time to focus on the prevention of heart disease,” encourages Tammy Thompson, M.S., RCEP, Cardiac Rehab Manager/Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist at Crossing Rivers Health. “According to recently released statistics by the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the world for both men and women combined. In the United States, heart disease kills over 370,000 Americans annually, and this number is expected to increase drastically by the year 2030. Those are alarming statistics!”
To gauge the cardiovascular health of the nation, the American Heart Association tracks seven key health factors and behaviors, called Life’s Simple 7: 1. Get active, 2. Eat better, 3. Lose weight, 4. Stop smoking, 5. Control cholesterol, 6. Manage blood pressure, and 7. Control blood sugar.
The American Heart Association has a goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent and reduce death rates from cardiovascular disease and death by 20 percent by the year 2020. Being aware of the causes of heart disease and making small changes toward a healthier life is the best gift you can give yourself.
Take charge of the behaviors you can control- if you are a smoker, focus on quitting. Quitting smoking can be very difficult- start by setting a quit date goal and talk with your physician about ways that they can assist you. Talk to your friends and family about your goal to quit and ask for their support. Your state tobacco quit line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) is another resource for 24/7 assistance.
Increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet and reducing your weight are all additional ways that you can reduce your risk of heart disease. 30% of U.S. adults report that they don’t participate in physical activity. Only 27% of students in grades 9-12 meet the American Heart Association recommendation of 60 minutes of daily exercise. Increasing physical activity throughout the day and achieving the recommended amounts of exercise has a significant impact on reducing or maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol. By having a goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and getting a minimum of 150 minutes per week of exercise, one can maintain body weight (if in a healthy weight range) or impact weight loss. Finally, by achieving regular physical activity, you can make an impact and reduce your risk.
Tammy Thompson adds, “Of course starting with a small goal and focusing on one area is better than focusing on a larger goal or many areas and becoming frustrated. The key is to focus on the area that is most important to you and add an additional goal as you achieve success. Focus on areas of your life where you can take control and make lifestyle changes which will not only improve your overall health, but have a measurable impact on your heart and long-term quality of life.”
For additional information on Cardiac Rehab or the Healthy Hearts program at Crossing Rivers Health, call 608-357-2349 or visit crossingrivers.org.