February is American Heart Month and a good time to start living a healthier lifestyle.
Americans, however, are plagued with 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 Trumbull County was 417 per 100,000 residents. In Mahoning County it was 454 deaths per 100,000 residents, with Columbiana County at 389 per 100,000 residents. These are all higher than Ohio’s overall number of 372.5
The number for Mercer and Lawrence counties is 409 deaths for heart disease and stroke for people age 35 or older per 100,000 residents. 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.