Remember to stay heart healthy | News, Sports, Jobs

It’s American Heart Month, and a good time to start living a healthier lifestyle.

As Ohio Valley residents, however, we are plagued with leading many areas of the country in illnesses including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The statistics tell a sad story:

≤ Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined, according to the American Heart Association.

≤ One person dies from cardiovascular disease every 34 seconds in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and one person dies of a stroke every 3 minutes and 17 seconds, according to the heart association.

≤ Nearly one half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, according to the heart association.

≤ Cardiovascular ailments were listed as the underlying cause of death in 928,741 deaths in 2020, the heart association added.

≤ While the toll in human life is staggering, the financial costs are sobering — between 2018 and 2019, direct and indirect costs associated with cardiovascular disease were $407.3 billion.

According to the CDC, the death rate for heart disease and stroke for those 35 and older between 2018 and 2020 in Jefferson County was 479 per 100,000 residents. There are similar statistics for deaths per 100,000 residents in surrounding counties, with Belmont County at 458.3 Harrison County coming in at 441.3, Carroll County at 397 and Columbiana County at 389.4. Ohio’s overall number was 372.5

In West Virginia, the rates were 434 in Hancock County, 404.6 in Ohio County and 401.6 in Brooke County. West Virginia’s overall number was 381.8.

And, in Pennsylvania, the rates were 384.7 in Beaver County, 371 in Allegheny County and 331 in Washington County. In Pennsylvania, the overall rate was 339.2

The good news is that it’s really not too late to start a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Moderation in food consumption is one key to becoming more healthy. Cutting some calories and just eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole-grain foods, can go a long way in helping someone to feel better.

It’s important to remember, too, that fad diets and radical changes aren’t always the best route for someone wanting to improve his or her health. Sound advice from experts includes staying the course with a long-term heart-healthy food regimen.

Also important for a healthy heart is taking part in some physical activity. Even walking 20 to 30 minutes each day brings many benefits and gets your heart pumping. Remember that increased physical activity and eating healthier may help bring blood pressure and blood sugar readings to better levels.

Remember, too, that smoking is a major risk for heart disease and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. Smoking can block the blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and even secondhand smoking is dangerous and increases a person’s risk for a heart attack, AHA officials have said.

We’re asking area residents to become more conscious of their heart health starting today. Small steps today can lead to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a longer life.

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