‘Life’s Simple 7’ Steps: Lowering Risk for Heart Disease More Vital Than Ever

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May 2, 2020


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When it comes to COVID-19, older adults with coronary heart disease or high blood pressure are more likely to develop more severe symptoms, states the American Heart Association (AHA). Meanwhile, nearly half of U.S. adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease, the AHA says..

In February of this year, weeks before nationwide shelter-in-place orders went into effect, the AHA intensified its campaign to educate U.S. adults about their ability to control risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. The organization calls it “Life’s Simple 7” plan. It covers the seven key areas of prevention: Managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, exercising regularly, healthy eating, weight management and not smoking

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The numbers are striking: One person dies every 37 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. And about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths..

Overall, cardiovascular disease encompasses coronary heart disease (narrowing of the arteries), heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure.

“What we’ve come to realize is that if you have an ideal lifestyle, as it relates to nutrition, physical activity, not smoking, ideal weight, and managing your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, then you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by almost 90 percent over a subsequent 10-year period,” said Theodore Feldman, M.D., medical director of prevention and community health at Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute at Baptist Health South Florida.

Healthy lifestyles are increasingly tied to a lower risk of cancer, Dr. Feldman emphasizes.

“Interestingly,” he adds, “those same seven metrics, which has been coined as ‘Life’s Simple 7’ by the American Heart Association, has been associated in a variety of studies with not only the likelihood of reducing the chance of getting heart disease, but reducing the rate of many forms of cancer — as well as diabetes, obesity and chronic lung disease — by 50 percent to 80 percent.”

Life’s Simple 7
Here is a recap of “Life’s Simple 7” from the American Heart Association:

Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer. Learn how to manage your blood pressure.

Control Cholesterol
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages. Learn how to control your cholesterol.

Reduce Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. Learn how to reduce your blood sugar.

Get Active
Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. Learn how to get active and move more.

Eat Better
A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life! Learn how to eat better.

Lose Weight
When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too. Learn how to lose or manage weight.

Stop Smoking
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a much higher risk of developing lung or other cancers. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.

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