Dear Dr. Walt, all the men and most of the women in my family have died in their 40s or 50s from heart attacks, stroke, or heart failure. Am I doomed to the same? Heavy Heart in Hawaii
The bad news? A 2018 study from the CDC reported, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American adults.” However, the good news? The CDC says, “Heart problems are largely preventable (including heart attacks, strokes, heart failure).”
You didn’t say if you were male or female, but the women in your family need to know that the number one killer of women is heart disease, accounting for about one in every four female deaths.
Despite increases in public awareness over the past decade, only one in five American women believe heart disease is their greatest health threat.
Many women believe breast cancer is their primary health concern when, in fact, this disease is far down the list. In reality, more women die of cardiovascular disease than all cancers put together. For example, breast cancer causes only about 1 in 31 deaths in women.
Whether you’re male or female, your family doctor can work with you and your family on strategies to dramatically reduce your risk.
However, one of the most important is as simple a choice as improving your nutrition. According to one report, “Eating more of seven key foods—fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, dairy, and non-processed red meat—has been linked to lower premature deaths and reduced cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in at least three large independent studies.”
Recent data from 52 countries report that nine factors (abnormal lipids, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, alcohol use, and low regular physical activity) account for most of the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Another large study also found that stress—whether at home or work, financial, or significant life events—although less dangerous to our health than smoking, was as bad as high blood pressure or abdominal obesity.
One effective lifestyle intervention for reducing stress and anxiety is 10 to 20 minutes a day of silence, relaxation, prayer, or meditation. This simple discipline can improve your spiritual, emotional, and physical life.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2022. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.