Heart Disease Awareness Month

February 2022

Did you know that heart disease is one of the most widespread, complicated and expensive health challenges in the United States and around the world?  Let’s take a few minutes to learn more about heart disease during February’s Heart Disease Awareness Month.

The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease (disorders of the heart and blood vessels) accounted for about one in three deaths in the United States in 2017 and one in 19 deaths in 2019 were caused by strokes.

Worldwide, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, killing 17.9 million people every year — a number that’s expected to grow beyond 23.6 million by 2030. About 80 percent of these deaths are from heart attacks and strokes according to the World Heart Federation.

In the United States, more than 126 million people had some form of cardiovascular disease between 2015 and 2018. The National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) estimates the costs of heart disease – the most expensive disease – to be $193 billion.

Despite these enormous challenges, there are some hopeful signs. Many risk factors for heart disease - lack of physical activity, poor diet, and tobacco use – can be modified.

Physical Activity Recommendations

The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.

Adults should also add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week.

Spend less time sitting.

Gain even more benefits by being active at least 5 hours per week. (Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.)

Nutrition Guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy sources of protein (legumes and nuts; fish and seafood; low-fat or nonfat dairy; and, if you eat meat and poultry, ensure it is lean and unprocessed).

The AHA also recommends limited consumption of processed foods and foods/drinks with added sugars. Also, it is best to avoid or limit alcohol and to live a smoke-free life.

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