By Butch Meriwether
More than 6 million Americans are hospitalized annually due to cardiovascular disease and an additional 250,000 die of heart attacks each year before they can even reach a hospital for medical treatment.
Many people who suffer from cardio vascular disease didn’t realize they were one of the 6 million people until it was too late.
Some people are completely ignorant about the causes of the debilitating cardiovascular disease, commonly referred to as heart disease. They say it couldn’t happen to them and they choose to ignore the warning signs.
Cardio Vascular Disease has been deemed the number one killer in the United States since 1900, except for 1918. During the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, it is estimated that about 30 to 50 million people worldwide died and that included 675,000 Americans.
Here are some undisputable facts many may not be aware of. It is estimated that more than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day. That figure equates to one person in the United States dying from heart disease every 34 seconds and one person in the United States suffering a heart attack every 20 seconds.
There are several risk factors that increase an individual’s chance of developing cardiovascular disease. They include unhealthy eating habits, not exercising, not having an active lifestyle, being overweight, experiencing an inordinate amount of stress, and last, but not least, smoking.
Some risk factors for heart disease cannot be change, but eliminating some of those negative factors help people live a longer and live a healthier life.
There are simple remedies and measures individuals can adhere to or incorporate into their daily lives that may help them from either not getting cardiovascular disease or may diminish their chances of furthering the diseases.
There are viable tips and suggestions to help diminish the effects of cardiovascular disease:
- Physical activity – One of the easiest ways to get involved in physical activity is working around the yard or just getting out of the Lazy Boy chair and stating a hobby that keeps your mind and body in good working order.
- Companionship – An idle mind can lead to medical issues – keep active! Seniors can visit one of the many centers and/or facilities available locally designed for elderly people (don’t say anything – I’m 68). Many of the senior centers have activities such as bingo, crafts, karaoke and dancing, and of course there is stimulating conversation there in which people can share their experiences and thoughts.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is an important part of preventive health. Just some of the benefits of regular exercise include muscle strength, flexibility, cardiac fitness, reducing stress and anxiety, and it gives people a sense of well-being.
People don’t have to go out and run a marathon to stay fit. Just walking about 30 minutes per day will help get the blood flowing in that old “ticker.”
Talk with a neighbor and set up a walking schedule with them. But the biggest factor people should consider is if they are actually healthy enough to undergo an aggressive exercise program. If they have any concerns, they should consult with a physician prior to starting their exercise regimen.
- Eat healthier – Don’t just don’t eat three large meals per day and remember, most all moms have always said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is medically proven that it is better for people to have six smaller meals each day.
An example is between larger meals, break out the celery, a piece of fruit or other nutritional items from the fridge and munch on them instead of waiting for the larger afternoon and dinner meals.
If working, don’t decide to take a trip to the fast-food drive through. Many times I’ve seen someone at a local fast-food restaurant step up to the counter and order a giant bacon cheeseburger, large fries and top it off with a diet soda. That defies the logic of eating healthy. Take a snack, such as a piece of fruit or vegetables, with you to work to munch on.
Follow the Food Guide Pyramid. Balance your calories and avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass because bigger isn’t necessarily better. By eating less, you can still enjoy your food and stay heart healthy. Make sure that the food servings portions consist of 50 percent fruits and vegetables, and that at least 50 percent of the grains are whole grains.
Cut down on added fat, sugar, salt and experiment with a variety of foods. Don’t eat the same old foods every day.
- Stress management – Don’t let the little things get to you. It is said that stress is one of the biggest factors that causes heart problems. If someone experiences a problem, don’t let it fester until it medically affects the body and heart. Seek out someone to discuss the problem and there is a good chance the stress will dissipate. Chat with a neighbor or friend; it doesn’t have to be a medical professional you vent to. Just talking with someone can alleviate the stress.
- Stop smoking – Smoking is a bad habit that is hard to stop and definitely affects one’s health. Not only do the lungs get clogged up with nicotine, limits breathing capability and with lack of oxygen, it takes a toll on the heart muscle because not enough CO2 gets to it. Put down those “cancer sticks.”
- Weight control – We’ve all experienced the few extra pounds at one time or another, especially around the holidays.
Much of the weight control issues, other than what might be caused by genetics, can be controlled through all of the aforementioned subjects.
There is a wealth of information available at the touch of a fingertip on the worldwide net about cardiovascular disease, and on brochures at various medical facilities and senior centers.
Take time to do research on the causes of cardiovascular disease and be heart healthy!