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Focus On The Heart

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Posted by: Robin Fortenberry

Heart disease can affect anyone of any age or gender and has no boundaries.

In the last 20 years, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in both adult men and women in the United States. Increasing rates of obesity and hypertension among adults as young as 35 years of age, are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life than ever before. Research shows that nearly 60 percent of overweight children age 5 to 17 have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 25 percent have two or more. And obese kids have an 80 percent chance of staying obese their entire lives. This is especially alarming since roughly 1 in 3 kids are considered overweight or obese. 

In addition, people living with pre-existing health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory conditions) are at higher risk of complications and death due to COVID-19. 

Those who are at the highest risk for heart disease generally have one or more of the following factors. 

  • High Cholesterol 
  • Hypertension 
  • Diabetes 
  • Smoking 
  • Obesity 
  • Family History 
  • Chronic Stress 
  • Sleep Apnea 
  • Excessive Alcohol Usage 
  • Age 
  • Unhealthy Diet 
  • Lack Of Physical Activity 

While some of these factors such as family history and age are beyond one's control, many of these factors can be reduced by dedication to lifestyle changes.

If you smoke, consider quitting. Not only is smoking a major risk factor for heart disease, it's also a high risk factor for lung cancer and cancer throughout the body. Both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society have stop smoking programs that can assist you in quitting.

Making adjustments to your diet is also a good way to reduce your risks of heart disease. High Cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and obesity can all be the result of a poor diet. Improvements to your diet such as reducing portion size, saturated fat, salt and sugar intake can have a positive affect.

In addition to improving your diet, adopting a more active lifestyle is another way you can reduce your risk factor. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity done five days a week can greatly improve the odds that you won't be affected by heart disease, cancer, diabetes and many other major diseases. 

So use the month of February to not only learn all you can about heart disease but to also make an individual plan to take steps to reduce your risks. Join the J in celebrating American Heart Month by wearing something red every Friday of February. And if you are someone who is at a higher risk, use the advice above to reduce your chance of developing heart disease. For more information, check out the websites below or contact me, Robin Fortenberry, at rfortenberry@erjcchouston.org. 

Sources; American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, American Council on Exercise 
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month
 
https://www.heart.org/-/media/files/professional/million-hearts/february-is-american-heart-month-ucm_493481.pdf 
https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/get-involved/give/wear-red-and-give/celebrate-american-heart-month 

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