Heart Disease

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans list “healthy eating” as one of their New Year resolutions. Unfortunately, many fail to meet their goals for one simple reason: they don’t know how to eat healthy. This is especially troubling as the leading cause for death for men and women in America is heart disease.

Coronary Artery Disease is the most common form of heart disease in America. This disease occurs when plaque builds up in the wall of the arteries, making it difficult for the blood to flow through the body. Heart disease weakens the heart muscle and often leads to a heart attack.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 610,000 Americans die from heart disease annually. This means one in every four deaths are caused by heart disease. Additional statistics revealed someone dies of a heart disease-related event every minute in America.

Risk factors for heart disease include, but are not limited to, diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. The great tragedy of heart disease is that a majority of the deaths are preventable. However, many people do not know how to enact effective lifestyle changes.

Although the cold turkey method seems to be a popular choice, most people are setting themselves up for failure. Unless a behavior is life threatening, it is better to gradually decrease its presence in your life, rather than cutting it out all at once. Set goals for yourself based on where you are and where you want to end up.

If you want to eat healthier, work to incorporate the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Decrease the amount of processed sugars, simple carbs, and high fat foods, while replacing them with healthier options. Try to cook more food at home, so you can control the ingredients and explore different recipes online. Aim to make one meal a week and then slowly increase as your schedule adjusts.

Nutrition is about two-thirds of the battle. The remaining third rests squarely on physical lifestyle choices. Explore different exercise options to see what works best for you. Join a gym, buy some DVDs, or work out with a group of friends. There are numerous workout options (yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, Crossfit, and weightlifting to name a few), and you may not know what works best for you until you give it a try. Aside from exercise, you need to stand and move more in your daily life. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time have been linked to a number of health concerns, including abnormal cholesterol levels. Adults who recorded more than four hours of “recreational (TV and/or computer) screen time” had a 125 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Suggestions include standing desks and walking.

Making a lifestyle change can seem overwhelming at first. Remember to determine your objective and then set up short- and long-term goals to reach the end. Establish a network of supportive friends and family members, and choose a select few who are privy to your goals and struggles. Finally, remember why you are making the change. Proper motivation can move mountains. Change your lifestyle today, so you won’t be a heart disease statistic tomorrow.