These Statistics on Heart Health May Inspire You to Give Your Own Heart Some Love
February is American Heart Month—a government initiative that seeks to bring more attention to heart disease and its causes while encouraging Americans to adopt heart-healthy behaviors. In the spirit of Hearth Month, here’s the first in a series of posts dedicated to inspiring habits and activities beneficial to this vital organ.
Below, we’ll dig into some of the current stats on heart health in America to set the stage for upcoming discussions about the whys and hows of achieving optimal heart health in your own life.
Americans and Heart Disease
Preventing heart disease is perhaps the most important reason for taking cardiovascular health seriously. According to the CDC, heart disease is still the “leading cause of death for both men and women,” and, as such, is one of the biggest challenges faced by the healthcare system in the United States today—it’s also one of the biggest areas of opportunity for improving healthcare figures.
Here are some additional statistics provided by the CDC in relation to heart disease:
- More than 600,000 people die of heart disease every year in the United States, counting for a quarter of all deaths.
- Every year, around 750,000 Americans experience a heart attack.
- “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites,” and “for American Indians or Alaska Natives and Asians or Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second only to cancer.”
- Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack can save lives, and yet only 27% of respondents on a recent survey “were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack.”
- Three key factors that increase the risk of developing heart disease are “high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking” and almost half of all Americans experience one of these three factors (other factors include diabetes, being overweight or obese, eating poorly, living a sedentary lifestyle, and drinking too much alcohol).
Heart Health and Exercise
If sedentary lifestyles are one of the biggest factors that contribute to the development of heart disease, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce that risk. Below are some results from studies on how exercise benefits the cardiovascular system as summarized in a report from the Canadian Medical Association Journal:
- Inactivity is a “modifiable” risk factor in the development of heart disease and tends to be more prevalent than other factors (according to a report from the State of New York, “35% of coronary heart disease mortality is due to physical inactivity”).
- Even patients already suffering from cardiovascular disease can receive health benefits from incorporating regular physical activity into their daily routine.
- Burning off 1,600 calories per week through exercise may be effective in halting the progression of coronary artery disease.
- Burning off 2,200 calories per week may help reduce plaque in arteries of patients with heart disease.
- Not all exercise has to be done at the highest intensity to be effective: “Low-intensity exercise training (e.g., exercise at less than 45% of maximum aerobic power) has also been associated with an improvement in health status among patients with cardiovascular disease.”
- That said, those exercising at 45% maximum power or higher may have even better success at managing their symptoms and extending longevity.
Heart Health and Diet
Harvard’s School of Public Health breaks down the stats on heart health as it relates to what we eat as follows:
- Focusing on specific nutrients as contributors to poor heart health has been misleading as “people eat food, not nutrients.” For optimal heart health, the best diet “is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils.” (Fun fact: this sounds a lot like the type of diet we promote here on our healthy living blog.)
- Eating a diet like this may lead to “a 31% lower risk of heart disease, a 33% lower risk of diabetes, and a 20% lower risk of stroke.”
- High intake of healthy fats like “extra-virgin olive oil or nuts, both rich sources of unsaturated fat” were shown to reduce “the incidence of major cardiovascular events amongst patients with cardiovascular disease” over a 4.8-year period of time.
The blog at Kansas State University also details some good diet-related heart-health stats:
- Obesity isn’t just bad for the health of the individual, it’s also responsible for lost economic productivity in the amount of “almost 39 million workdays.”
- Less than a quarter of American adults eat the recommended amount of fruit every day and around one third eat the recommended amount of vegetables.
- “According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all cases of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes could be prevented if people ate healthier, were more physically active and stopped using tobacco.”
Heart Health and Stress
Stress, especially chronic stress, can have some serious impacts on the body’s health, and heart health is no exception. Next Avenue has a great breakdown of how stress can impact heart health:
- Periods of acute stress and anxiety can trigger “your body's ‘fight or flight’ response,” leading to rises in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Your heart may experience arterial damage as a result of stress hormones, and this has a compound effect for the heart: “When damage occurs, platelets in the blood adhere to the injured walls in an attempt to promote healing, resulting in a thickening of the arterial wall.”
- Stress causes “fatty acids and glucose” to be released into the bloodstream, which may then “be converted into natural fat and cholesterol creating deposits that decrease blood flow.”
- Stress tends to encourage other heart-damaging behaviors like smoking, eating too much, consuming too much alcohol and/or caffeinated beverages, and more—all of which can send the heart into overdrive.
- Stress may negatively impact the body’s natural repair functions, resulting in ”slower repair of injuries to the heart.”
VitaYears™ and Heart-Healthy Lifestyles
While crafting high-quality supplements and multivitamins targeted toward your specific health concerns is the foundation of our business, we also firmly believe in promoting a healthy lifestyle that features eating the right foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep every night, and keeping stress levels down. We’re staunch believers that while our VitaYears Anti-Aging Multivitamin is made from the best ingredients out there and is manufactured with the highest of standards, there is no such thing as a miracle pill. We hope you’ll continue enjoying our articles dedicated to promoting optimal heart health, and we encourage you to check out the other great content available through our healthy living blog.