Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America across most demographics. In fact, the CDC estimates that every 37 seconds, someone in America dies of heart disease. With statistics like these, it comes as no surprise that more people are trying to take a proactive approach to health.
Non-Modifiable Risk Factors
The CDC estimates that roughly 47% of all Americans have at least one of the top risk factors associated with heart disease. Here are the three risk factors people have no control over and need to plan for instead of correct.
- Age: Unfortunately, no age group remains immune to the risks of heart disease. Even so, the risk increases as people grow older.
- Gender: Men and women both share high risks of suffering from heart disease, but men experience greater risk. According to a CDC report, heart disease accounts for one in every five female deaths but one in every four male deaths.
- Family History: Once heart disease appears in the family, it can continue to present a problem. The more prevalent it is, the more a person needs to consider the risk when making lifestyle choices and health care decisions.
Modifiable Risk Factors
The good news is that most factors associated with heart disease are within your control. In fact, even if you have a strong family history of heart disease and have grown older, you might be able to reduce your risk by paying attention to the following risk factors.
- Diet: People who eat a diet rich in cholesterol and fats might experience a much higher risk of developing heart disease. Too much salt in the diet can also present a problem. Poor dietary choices can lead to other contributing factors, such as obesity and diabetes.
- High Cholesterol: Eating high-cholesterol foods naturally contributes to having high cholesterol, which is itself a major health risk. Cholesterol can create a waxy substance in the arteries that decrease blood flow and force the heart to overwork itself.
- High Blood Pressure: High salt consumption levels increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, as do obesity and other factors. Note that high blood pressure increases the risks of suffering a stroke and heart attack.
- Obesity: This occurs when the body stores bad cholesterol as fat, leading to excess body weight. The heart then needs to put in extra work to power the body and provide oxygenated blood. Obesity also increases the risk of diabetes.
- Diabetes: Diabetes does not necessarily have a direct cause-relationship with heart disease, but people with diabetes do tend to suffer more from the disease than others. This might stem from the other contributing factors associated with diabetes, such as physical inactivity.
- Lack of Exercise: The best way to burn fat is to get active and stay active. People who are less active also tend to have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
- Smoking: The CDC identifies smoking as one of the top three risk factors associated with heart disease. Even secondhand smoke can present risks. In fact, people who do not smoke at all but who partake in nicotine in other ways might also face risks.
7 Keys To Prevent Heart Disease
By identifying the risk factors that make you or your loved one more predisposed to heart disease, you can take the necessary steps to eliminate those risk factors or plan for them.
Consider which of these seven are applicable to you:
- Reduce Blood Sugar: Roughly 9% of American adults have diabetes. The best way to keep your blood sugar low is to eat fewer sugary foods, including the complex sugars found in bread and other carbs-heavy items.
- Lower Cholesterol: More than 40% of Americans suffer from high cholesterol. Keeping your cholesterol low makes it easier for your heart to do its job and reduces the risk of blocked arteries.
- Control Blood Pressure: Roughly one in three Americans have high blood pressure, fueled in part by high salt intake. Talk to your doctor about how to manage your cholesterol through diet, exercise and even medication.
- Eat Well: In today’s busy world, it’s easy to focus on current gratification but try to eat today with tomorrow in mind. This can reduce many of the risks already highlighted, such as type 2 diabetes.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is common among American adults and is growing among children. Find healthy ways to maintain your recommended weight based on your height.
- Get Active: Almost one in three Americans do not make the time or effort to exercise. Choose an activity that works for you and stick to it, such as hiking or cycling.
- Stop Smoking: Roughly 19% of men, 15% of women and 6% of adolescents are smokers. Quitting is easier said than done, so the best approach is not to pick up the habit in the first place.
Doing the Extra Work
Some people resign themselves to their current health conditions and feel that they cannot move forward. However, in most instances, they are making excuses instead of making an effort. When you do, you erect your own barriers to wellness:
- 27% of people believe they already live a heart-healthy lifestyle, but it’s important to keep abreast of new information.
- 18% of people refuse to stop eating the foods they love, but you don’t need to if you learn new ways to prepare old favorites.
- 17% of people say they don’t have enough time to exercise or that it gets boring, but 10-minute sessions three times per day can do wonders.
- 14% of people say eating healthy is too expensive, but there are great tips available to help you save money along the way.
- 12% of people say they don’t have the extra time to care for themselves, but you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to try.
At the AED USA, heart health is important to us as we focus on saving the lives of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victims. If you are at risk of SCA, speak with our experts who can provide you with life saving devices that help you and your family stay safe.