Each year, 17,900,000 people die from cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke. For World Heart Day 2019, the World Heart Federation has created a mission to ensure heart health equity for all. The theme this year relates to global communities becoming “Heart Heroes,” or people from all walks of life who are dedicated to living longer, heart-healthy lives.1
Some of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease are completely out of your control; however, there are some that youcancontrol by becoming more knowledgeable of the topic.
The factors that you may not be able to control are:
- Age- the older you become, the more you are at risk for heart disease. The greatest age of risk is 45 and older for men, and 55 and older for women.
- Gender- heart disease can differ between men and women. For example, estrogen in women provides more protection against heart disease; however, diabetes in women raises the risk more than in men.
- Race or Ethnicity- certain groups, such as African American and South Asians, have a higher risk compared to Whites and East Asians.
- Family History- if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an earlier age, it is safe to assume that you have a greater risk.2
There are many things that you can do to lower the risk of heart disease. Here are eight examples:
- Control your blood pressure- One of the major risk factors of heart disease is having a high blood pressure. Getting your blood checked regularly, or at least once a year, is crucial if you are experiencing high blood pressure levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight- Being overweight or having obesity increases your risk for heart disease and other risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Controlling your weight with diet and exercise can prevent more risk factors from occurring.
- Eat a healthy diet- Eating plenty of fresh fruit, grains, and vegetables, while avoiding added sugars and sodium to can help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Become more physically activity- Staying with an exercise routine can overall strengthen your heart, improve circulation, and prevent the many risk factors of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol intake- The extra calories from alcohol can cause weight gain, while the excess alcohol in the bloodstream can cause a very high blood pressure. Men should try and stick with two alcoholic drinks per day, while women should not have more than one drink per day.
- Stop smoking- Not only does smoking cause a list of health issues in adults, but secondhand smoking poses a serious health hazard. Nonsmokers have a 30% chance of developing heart disease just from the exposure of smoke at work or home. Quitting smoking and/or being around other smokers will lower your risk for heart disease.
- Watch your sleeping habits- Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and frequent sleeping problems, such as sleep apnea, can raise your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing trouble sleeping at night.
- Manage stress- Long-term stress can cause an array of problems, such as increase in heart rate and other unhealthy habits, such as overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking. Exercising, listening to music, or meditating can be beneficial to managing stress.2,3
Taking small, yet meaningful changes towards a healthier lifestyle can make a huge impact. Raising awareness onWorld Heart Day 2019can help encourage other individuals, families, communities, and governments to act. Reducing the burden of premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases will create a world full of Heart Heroes, as we remember our promise to live for “my heart, your heart, and all our hearts.”1
- World heart day- my heart, your heart. World Heart Federation website. https://www.world-heart-federation.org/world-heart-day/world-heart-day-2019/. Published 2019. Accessed September 25, 2019.
- How to prevent heart disease. Medline Plus website. https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventheartdisease.html. Published September 6, 2019. Accessed September 25, 2019.
- How to help prevent heart disease at any age. American Heart Association website. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/how-to-help-prevent-heart-disease-at-any-age. Published April 2015. Accessed September 25, 2019.