Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be.
Heart disease and stroke continue to claim the lives of more people in the United States than any other cause — and the COVID-19 pandemic is adding even more threats to our cardiovascular health.
Research shows COVID-19 can cause both short- and long-term heart and vascular damage. Just as concerning are the pandemic’s negative effects on lifestyle habits and mental well-being.
We’ve seen concerning trends in unhealthy eating and exercise patterns, decreased management of conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, increased alcohol consumption, and a sharp decline in mental health. All of these things have a tremendous impact on our health.
Getting on track with protecting your heart
While the pandemic has stalled and even reversed decades of hard-earned progress toward reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke, we can take steps now to get back on track.
The American Heart Association recommends health measures called Life’s Simple 7, which are the risk factors you can improve to help achieve your ideal cardiovascular health. Research shows doing these seven things will help protect your heart and brain health for years to come:
Nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure. The best way to know if you have it is to have your blood pressure checked. Visit your health care professional or learn how to monitor it at home.
There are many risk factors that can contribute to high cholesterol. One of the best ways to lower it is to reduce saturated fats, which are commonly found in red meat, fried foods, egg yolks and full-fat dairy products.
Most food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
4. Get active
Any movement is better than none, and more is better!
5. Eat better
Think about your overall dietary pattern instead of “good” or “bad” foods and look for healthy swaps that will benefit your health in the long run.
Balancing healthy eating and physical activity can help you lose weight more easily and keep it off.
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. You’re more likely to quit using tobacco for good if you create a plan that fits your lifestyle.
When it comes to prevention, it’s never too early or too late to start. Incorporating consistent, healthy choices into your routine can lead to a longer, healthier life.