Sadly, we are seeing deaths from heart disease and stroke on the rise. The good news is that heart disease and stroke can be prevented 80% of the time by making healthy choices.
The American Heart Association has defined optimal cardiovascular health based on seven risk factors — Life’s Simple 7 — that people can improve through lifestyle changes: physical activity, weight, diet, blood glucose, cholesterol, smoking status and blood pressure.
Reports show people in ideal ranges of Life’s Simple 7 have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke compared to people in poor ranges. Just by making these small adjustments on a daily basis, individuals can make their health a priority:
• People who exercise have better health than those who don’t. Make your decision to get moving today. To attain the most health benefits from physical activity, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking or fast dancing, each week. That averages 30 minutes per day, five days a week — and it doesn’t need to be done all at one time!
Weight and diet:
• Maintain a healthy weight and concentrate on smaller portions, rather than forcing yourself to eliminate the foods you love. Add fiber-rich foods to your meal plan that will keep you feeling full, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Drinking a glass of water before meals supports portion control.
• Reduce your blood sugar. High blood sugar encourages the growth of the plaque in your arteries and increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Exercise and a healthy diet supports reduction in blood glucose.
• Control your cholesterol. When there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, you are at major risk for heart disease and stroke. To better your health, follow your healthcare provider’s advice, make healthy food choices and get active.
• Do not smoke. Smoking is the No. 1 modifiable cause of death. If you do smoke, make a plan to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to move forward.
• High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. In fact, 50% of American adults have high blood pressure, and many are unaware. Take action by knowing your blood pressure numbers, tracking your progress and learning healthy habits for eating well and staying active.
Remember, making small choices every day will help keep your heart healthy. To learn more information about Life’s Simple 7, check out a video developed by the American Heart Association Greater Phoenix Division and the Cancer Treatment Centers of America here: https://www.facebook.com/134602376613847/videos/1414382052295961
Editor’s Note: Dr. Katherine Kenny is a certified adult nurse practitioner and current President of the Phoenix American Heart Association Board. She regularly works with the American Heart Association to help raise awareness of heart health through a variety of initiatives, including the annual Phoenix Heart Ball, which has raised more than $40 million in 62 years to support the AHA’s lifesaving mission. For more information on the 2021 Phoenix Heart Ball, taking place on Saturday, Nov. 21, visit phoenixheartball.heart.org.