And all you have to do is not smoke; control high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol; exercise regularly; and eat healthy.
Easier said than done. According to a recent report from the American Heart Association, 121 million American adults have some form of heart disease. That’s nearly half of the population.
After decades of steady decline, deaths rose by almost 4,000 cases from 2015 to 2016.
“It is a startling number but not an overwhelmingly surprising one given the increased prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and sedentary lifestyle,” said Dr. Jennifer Haythe, co-director of the Women’s Center for Cardiovascular Health at the New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. “The hope is that the numbers startle people into changing their lifestyles and seeing their doctor to have their cardiovascular risk factors assessed.”
While more Americans are at risk, deaths from heart disease have actually fallen by 17.7% over the last several decades. This is attributed to a decline in smoking—just one of many factors we can do something about.
“A blood pressure of 130/80 is an important reminder to employ lifestyle modifications,” says Leslie Cho, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center. “These are risk factors we can completely control, like diabetes, smoking and diet.”
If you think you’re at risk, you might look into a heart policy from your association and AMBA to cover costly treatments or procedures that Medicare might not. In the meantime, small lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
“If you lower your body weight you can decrease your blood pressure by about 8 points, and you don’t need to lose hundreds of pounds,” Cho points out. “We’re talking as little as 5% of your body weight.”