Taking Heart Health to Heart

From Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla. Public Affairs

Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer for both men and women. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of all U.S. deaths each year, 26 percent are caused by heart disease.  The only other cause of death that comes close is cancer.  The costs of heart disease in the United States will triple between now and 2030, to more than $800 billion a year, according to a recent American Heart Association report.

Controllable major risk factors for heart disease include:  smoking, obesity and overweight, physical inactivity, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Other controllable risks include stress, alcohol and nutrition. 

Making changes to these risk factors can have major pay-offs. For instance, smokers have two to four times the risk of coronary heart disease as non-smokers, and the risk of death significantly decreases after quitting.  Besides quitting smoking, heart-healthy actions include weight loss, physical activity, good nutrition, stress management and management of conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.