February is in the air, which means a month of thinking about the heart and love, especially on Feb 14th. Valentine's Day leads nicely into the American Heart Association's Heart Month, where cardiovascular diseases are brought to our attention again. Most of you know someone who has had a heart attack or stroke, thus it is understandable why cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US. According to the CDC, "one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day." Cardiovascular disease is also debilitating, and thus prevents people from working or enjoying life.
In 2011 the Department of Health and Human Services along with the CDC, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services started a public-private partnership to reduce cardiovascular disease. "Million Hearts™ is a national initiative that aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. over the next five years."
The goals of Million Hearts from the CDC website include:
Empowering Americans to make healthy choices such as avoiding tobacco use and reducing the amount of sodium and trans fat they eat. These changes will reduce the number of people who need medical treatment for high blood pressure or cholesterol-and ultimately prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Improving care for people who do need treatment by encouraging a focus on the "ABCS"-Aspirin for people at risk, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation-four steps to address the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
What does this mean for you and your family?
- It means becoming active, moving your body for at least 30 minutes a day, so that you exercise your heart, which is a muscle.
- It means knowing your numbers, understanding your Cholesterol labs, CRP levels, and any other labs that your doctor thinks are important for your case.
- It means knowing your ABCS -
"Ask your doctor if you should take an Aspirin every day.
Find out if you have high Blood pressure or Cholesterol, and if you do, get effective treatment.
If you Smoke, get help to quit."
- It means looking at your Diet Choices - choosing a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. While being low in trans fats and processed foods, thus eating a whole foods based diet.
- It means checking in with your doctor about anything that seems off regarding your health.
- It means sharing this information with the people that matter most to you.
Anita M. Larrow, ND
References - CDC Features - Be One in a Million This American Heart Month