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February is American Heart Month

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Take time this month to focus on your heart health. We know that with the way the American lifestyle is, it can be difficult. We eat a lot, watch a lot of TV, sit at our desks all day, and hardly have time for physical activity. This lifestyle has not been without consequence. In fact, there is substantial evidence to conclude that it plays a major role in our heart health. “Cardiovascular disease — including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure — is responsible for one out of every three deaths (in the US). It is the No. 1 killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability,” President Obama announced in his Presidential Proclamation on January 30.

Despite this morbid pronouncement, the good news is that overall mortality rates of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the United States have actually declined in the past four decades. This is largely due to our heightened awareness of the dangers of smoking, advancements in prevention through heart healthy programs, and the ever increasing advancements in medical technology.

However, all these improvements have not succeeded in defeating this disease. It is still an ever present killer for Americans and is affecting young Americans at a steady rate. A study released this year by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, titled, “Healthy Lifestyle in the Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among Young Women” confirms this, and goes even further concluding that “the rate of CHD in young women (ages 35-44) has increased on average by 1.3% per year between 1997 and 2002, and predicted CHD risk among young adults and women has declined only modestly since then.”

 In summary, it seems that despite an overall decline in the mortality rates of this disease for the general population, our young adult population has been affected at an increasing or unchanging rate in recent years. 

Woman in her Forties Exercising with Handweights

This study assesses lifestyle factors as a vital part of this odd trend. As a result of their study, the American College of Cardiology found that young women in the United States who adhered to a healthy lifestyle were associated with a decrease in risk for incidence of CHD. A healthy lifestyle, according to this study, takes into account the following risk factors: smoking,  physical activity, diet, TV watching, alcohol and BMI score.

What this means is that young women can play a major role in their own primordial prevention of CHD.

The American Heart Association is dedicated to bringing awareness to this very truth. Their website has a host of resources on Getting Healthy  in different areas of your health – Nutrition, Smoking, Physical Activity, Stress Management, and more.

On Friday, February 6, President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama will invite all Americans to participate in National Wear Red Day. This day is meant to help raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and “remind us all that it is never too early to take action to protect our health.”

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