Today marks a very important day for the Global Health Initiative; it’s World Heart Day! World Heart Day was started in 2012 by the World Heart Federation to bring awareness to one of the most prevalent and concerning diseases in the world, cardiovascular disease (CVD).
CVD has become more prevalent in the United States and the world as our health as a whole has continued to deteriorate. CVD is the world’s leading cause of death, and the totals have been estimated at 17.5 million lives each year worldwide. Although these statistics sound morbid, there is a silver lining! The risk of developing CVD can be controlled to an extent, and is in large part associated with diet and exercise.
Uncontrollable and Controllable Risk Factors
Unfortunately, someone can be at risk for CVD based on factors out of their control. These 4 uncontrollable risk factors include:
- Gender – males are at greater risk.
- Age – the older you get, the higher the risk.
- Family history – a family history of CVD increases your risk.
- Post-menopausal – women who are post-menopausal are at greater risk.
However, there are controllable risk factors that can help lower your risk for CVD. The factors that you have control over include:
- Diet – high fat foods increase your risk, while nutritious foods decrease it.
- Physical activity – exercise can decrease “bad” cholesterol in your blood and keep your heart strong, decreasing your risk.
- Weight – being overweight or obese increases your risk.
- Smoking – tobacco use has a direct effect on your cardiovascular health and can increase your risk.
- Blood pressure – high blood pressure puts a lot of pressure on your heart, making it work even harder and increases your risk.
These five main risk factors are lifestyle dependent. By increasing your physical activity each day and by choosing nutritious foods over highly processed food sources, you can greatly diminish your odds of developing CVD while leading a healthier and happier life!
Take Control and Decrease Your Risk
Whether you (or a loved one) has a few of the risk factors associated with CVD, it is not too late to make changes. You can take control of your health starting today, and reverse some of the harmful effects your lifestyle has done on your heart.
Here are 4 key ways to take control of your health starting today:
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day. This includes something as simple as going for a walk during lunch/after dinner or playing outside with your children. Always get medical clearance from your physician before starting an exercise program.
- Limit the amount of processed foods you eat and increase your fruit and vegetable intake to 5 servings a day.
- If you use tobacco of any kind, quitting today may be the single best thing you can do for your health.
- Meet with your doctor to have your blood lipid levels tested. Setting up a plan to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides can greatly diminish you chances of developing CVD.
The key here is to be in the know. Knowing if you currently possess any of the risk factors associated with CVD can help you set up a plan to reduce or reverse those risk factors. Early intervention can help you or a loved one prevent the development of CVD and help you lead a happy and healthy life worry-free!
Your turn to take action: If you or a loved one is at risk for CVD, how will you reduce that risk? Let me know in the comments below!