Living Well: Cardiovascular disease world’s leading cause of death
The most common ways to neglect your heart health include smoking, being overweight or obese, eating the wrong foods and living a sedentary lifestyle.
The World Heart Federation reports that cardiovascular disease is the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.9 million lives each year. The Federation created World Heart Day “to drive action to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.”
Heart health starts with making healthy choices and managing medical conditions. This includes:
- Eating a healthy diet. Focus on foods that are low in sodium, added sugar, saturated fats and trans fats.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease.
- Regular exercise. Physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Not smoking. Cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Limiting alcohol use. Drinking too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure.
Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cardiology Care at MRH
Board-certified clinical cardiologist Dr. Gerald Myers treats a wide array of cardiac conditions, ranging from high blood pressure to heart disease, and is available to consult on diagnostic tests.
Call MRH at 970-826-2400 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What are cardiovascular diseases?
Cardiovascular diseases occur when the heart’s functions become compromised. Cardiovascular disease covers any disorder to the heart system. According to information from the World Health Organization and American Heart Association types of cardiovascular disease include:
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- Coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle.
- Cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain.
- Peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs.
- Rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria.
- Congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth.
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.
- Arrhythmia – refers to an abnormal heart rhythm.
- Stroke – occurs when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked, usually from a blood clot.
Reducing risk factors
Most risk factors for heart disease are preventable. The World Health Organization reports that “cessation of tobacco use, reduction of salt in the diet, consuming fruits and vegetables, regular physical activity and avoiding harmful use of alcohol have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
About half of all Americans have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making smart lifestyle choices can minimize or eliminate these risks.
“The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise,” according to heart.org, the American Heart Association’s website. “A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life.”
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