Someone in the U.S. will have a heart attack while you are reading this article. Every 40 seconds, another American will experience a heart attack. Tragically, 1 in every 4 deaths in America is caused by heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
February is American Heart Health Month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness to heart health preventative action and research. According to the American Heart Association, more than five million Americans and 121.5 million people worldwide suffer from heart disease. HMS is dedicated to raising awareness about this disease.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is an umbrella term used to describe conditions that can affect the heart and/or its valves, vessels, structure, electrical system, or coronary arteries. This includes arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart defects, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart infections, high blood pressure, and more.
Though each illness affects the heart differently, the ultimate problem with all heart diseases is they cause narrowing of the vessels that supply the heart with blood and keep it pumping. This can cause blood clots in the arteries of the heart and reduce blood flow to the brain leading to stroke, angina, or heart attack.
Can Heart Disease Be Prevented?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, but you can lower your risk by changing your lifestyle and managing risk factors. The following lifestyle changes could help prevent heart disease.
- Get Moving: Your heart is a muscle and, as with any muscle, exercise strengthens it. Find an exercise activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. Obesity is linked to other heart disease risk factors, including high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Controlling your weight can lower these risks.
- Quit Smoking: Smoking permanently damages your heart and blood vessels and can also cause cardiovascular disease (CVD). Quitting smoking is difficult, but it is necessary to lower your blood pressure and prevent a heart attack or stroke.
- Eat Heart-Healthy Foods: Saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars can raise your blood pressure and cholesterol which can cause blood clots in the arteries. Eat plenty of heart-healthy foods, like fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Stress Less: Excessive stress can cause blood pressure to rise, an increased heart rate, and even a heart attack. Some ways to manage your stress include exercise, listening to music, focusing on something calm or peaceful, and meditating.
HMS is Committed to Heart Health
HMS helps state and federal agencies protect vulnerable populations. Protecting the interests of those who are at-risk is more than just a job for our survey teams. It is our calling and our duty and demands our constant attention. Our hearts go out to individuals living with any form of heart disease, and to all the families who have entrusted the care of their loved ones to hospitals around America.