Did you know someone dies of cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds? With 17.3 million deaths each year, CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading global cause of death. What’s more? That number is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.
February was established as American Heart Month in 1964. Each year, the month serves as a reminder to focus on our hearts and encourage heart health among our families, friends and communities. At Mercy Health, we don’t want to just use this month to create awareness — we also want to equip you with the knowledge you need for a heart healthy life.
Help us raise awareness: Facts about heart health
- One in four deaths are caused by heart disease. This makes heart disease more deadly than all of the cancers combined.
- 790,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die.
- Only 27% of people can identify the major symptoms of a heart attack. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and discomfort in the arms back, neck, jaw or upper stomach.
- Heart disease can happen at any age. While 82% of people who die of heart disease are older than 65, those with a family history can experience problems much earlier.
- The American Heart Association lists smoking, physical inactivity, nutrition, being overweight or obese, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus as the largest risk factors for heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease
Steps you can take this month to help prevent heart disease
If there is one good thing about heart disease, it’s that heart disease is largely preventable. High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer,” due to the millions that have it, but are unaware they do. Together, we can help create awareness and build a culture of heart health. Here are four things you can do to take steps to better heart health today.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. If you’re not sure where to start, try taking walks in 15- to 30-minute intervals. Many cities also have walks or runs in February to help promote heart health. But while many of us know that aerobic exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, lifting weights can have similar benefits. When you build muscle, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body, which can result in lower blood pressure.
- Add heart-healthy foods into your diet. From avocado to salmon and dark chocolate — there are many delicious foods that can benefit your heart. Particularly, there are many fats that have heart health benefits. If you want to start eating better for your heart, cutting sodium is a great place to start. Try replacing the salt in your recipes with other herbs or spices to enhance flavor.
- Quit smoking. According to the American Heart Association, one in six men and one in seven women are smokers. While the damage caused by smoking is not entirely reversible, your body can quickly become much healthier with smoking cessation. In just one year, risk for coronary artery disease diminishes to half of that of a smoker’s. Within five to 15 years, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. After 15 years, risk of coronary artery disease is reduced to that of a non-smoker’s.
- Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about your heart health. The best way to understand any improvements you may need is to talk to your doctor. From measuring your blood pressure to discussing family history, you’ll gain a solid understanding of your heart disease risk. If you haven’t scheduled your annual appointment this year, you can visit mercy.com or call 513-952-5000 to find a doctor near you today.
Tomorrow is National Wear Red Day and we hope you’ll join us in wearing red to raise awareness for heart disease. However, there’s so much more you can do this month than change your wardrobe. We challenge you to take one of the four steps above to start your journey toward a healthier heart today. Let us know what step you’re taking in the comments and if you need any additional help. Together, we can help raise heart disease awareness and create healthier lives for ourselves and those we love.
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