With all the hearts flying around this Valentine’s Day, it only makes sense that February is American Heart Month. It serves as an annual reminder to raise awareness and encourage Americans to educate themselves about the wide-reaching impact of cardiovascular disease.
And it’s a reminder we desperately need. An estimated 116 million people have hypertension (high blood pressure). Based on data provided by the American Heart Association (AMA), someone in America dies from cardiovascular disease every 38 seconds. That’s 2,303 people every day! Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Roughly one in three deaths are attributed to some form of cardiovascular disease.
The purpose of this blog is not to cause shock. If you’ve followed What’s Up, USANA? for a while, you’ll know we write posts similar to this every year. It’s one of the ways we help raise awareness, by spreading this solemn information. Heart disease statistics can be overwhelming, almost to the point they become detached from reality. But this is very real. Statistically, every person in the U.S. knows at least one person who has died from cardiovascular disease.
I was in my early 20s when my mother had a heart attack and died in her sleep on December 28, 2005. I am now in my late 30s, which means I’ve lived a good portion of my life and have had many experiences since. I graduated from college, traveled a bit, went back to school, got married, had a kid, and that’s just a smattering.
I’m sad she didn’t get to see me basically grow up (because kids that young are still pretty dumb), but it is a part of my life. I write about this only to illustrate the normal, everyday impact of the above statistics.
Heart disease is something we can absolutely work to lessen, if not prevent, with the right changes. And the sooner you make those changes, the more impactful the results. If USANA, in our capacity as a health sciences company, can inspire even one person to establish a heart-healthy lifestyle, we will have succeeded.
What You Can Do
The first step in making a positive change is to recognize some of the factors that have a negative effect on heart health and create habits to reverse their impact.
- Excessive alcohol intake
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Unmanaged stress
- Nutrient-poor diets
With these in mind, how can you turn your attention to factors that can make a positive difference? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined ways to be more heart healthy.
- Don’t smoke. This “is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.”
- Visit your health-care provider for annual checkups and discussions about how to manage high blood pressure and/or cholesterol. Personally, my doctor and I have discussed adding an EKG every few years to my physical, based on my family history.
- Eat a diet “low in trans fat, saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium.” Focus on fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids from fish and nuts, and dietary fiber. Consider foods low on the glycemic index and adding high-quality supplementation to your daily routine, like USANA’s heart-health support products, to help make up for nutritional misses in your diet.
- Be active for at least 30 minutes each day. Even if this means taking a couple brisk walks throughout the day to start, the benefits will add up. And then build your activity level as you are able.
I encourage you to take a look at the educational resources provided by the AMA and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to see how you can get involved to spread awareness about cardiovascular disease. But, if you only take one thing away from this post, please pay attention to your body. Do not ignore possible signs of heart attack. Seek medical attention if you feel:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats
From our hearts to yours, we wish you good health.