February is Heart Health Month

February 19, 2013

If I asked you to list five health conditions associated with obesity, you could probably give me 10 or 15. The media has done a pretty good job educating Americans about the risks of carrying too many extra pounds, but since February is Heart Health Month, let’s take a closer look at the connection between being oID-10069051verweight and cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, contributing to one in four fatalities. Some of the conditions related to heart disease include heart attacks, strokes, angina, arrhythmia and coronary artery disease. The annual combined costs of medical treatment, medication and lost productivity is $312.6 billion. The cost in terms of loss of quality of life and death cannot be calculated in dollars and cents.

When a person carries too much weight, the cardiovascular system is compromised due to high cholesterol levels, poor blood circulation, unstable fluid levels, raised blood pressure, sleep apnea and other complications. All of these factors increase the odds of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

The bad news is that most of the causes of heart disease are related to personal choices such as smoking, diet, physical activity and stress. However, that is also the good news because it means you can reduce your risk by swapping unhealthy habits for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Eat a balanced diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid processed, fried and sugary foods
  • Walk for 15-30 minutes every day
  • Reduce/manage stress
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
  • Lose excess weight
  • Manage cardiovascular risks such as high blood pressure or diabetes with help from a physician

Find more tips at 28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Are you at risk? Complete the American Heart Association’s free Heart Attack Risk Calculator to evaluate your heart health.

Sources:

American Heart Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Response to “February is Heart Health Month”

  1. C J Walsh Says:

    A book by Dr. Stephen Sinatra called THE GREAT CHOLESTEROL MYTH, emphasizes the real culprit to heart disease is NOT cholesterol but sugar. Sugar causes inflammation, the main contributor to cardiac disease. The challenge is to find processed foods that do not contain sugar, under any of the 55 names it goes by. Eat real whole foods to avoid all but natural sugars. And don’t get fooled by shakes and bars that say HEALTHY–they do contain significant sugars!
    Good info from One LB at a Time!


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