Let’s improve America’s Heart Disease statistics
By: Dr. Philip Keiser
Galveston County Local Health Authority
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America. That’s a startling statistic. To break that down, heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths – that’s about 610,000 deaths every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s time to change the statistics. February marks American Heart Month and now is the perfect time to learn how you can take control of your health and protect your heart.
Don’t be fooled, heart disease isn’t an old man’s health problem. More and more, we’re seeing the conditions that lead to heart disease happening at a younger age. In fact, Americans ages 35-64, are at risk for heart disease earlier in life due to high risks in obesity and blood pressure, according to the CDC.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking/ tobacco use. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease. High cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease. Diabetes, obesity, smoking and eating unhealthy foods, in addition to not being physically active, all lead to higher cholesterol levels. Smoking also damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
The good news is you’re in control. Healthy changes can be made that may lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Adopt healthy eating habits
Healthy meals and snack options can help you avoid heart disease, and its complications. Fresh fruits, vegetables and
foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, carbohydrates and cholesterol can help in the fight against heart disease. Most Americans eat far too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Try low sodium options. Also, cut down on sugar. It increases your blood sugar levels. Try replacing sugary drinks like soda and juices with water or low-sugar alternatives.
Did you know only one in five adults meets the Surgeon General’s physical guidelines of getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week? That’s just 2.5 hours a week, or 20 minutes a day. Even a brisk walk or time on a bicycle can lead to a healthier heart.
Staying active helps you keep your heart and blood vessels healthy, maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. More than one in three Americans – and one in six children ages 2-19 – are considered obese. Extra weight puts stress on your heart.
Put down the cigarettes
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the CDC. If you don’t smoke, keep it that way. If you do, speak to your doctor about the best way to quit.
Take charge of your health. Work with your doctor to manage conditions that could lead to a higher risk of heart disease.
For more information on how to take care of your heart, visit www.cdc.gov.
Dr. Philip Keiser is the local health authority of Galveston County, a position he was appointed to in October 2016. Authorized by Chapter 121.021 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, a local health authority is a physician appointed to administer state and local laws relating to public health within the appointing body's jurisdiction.