On average, someone dies of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) every 40 seconds. That is about 2,200 deaths of CVD each day. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.1 February has been designated as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community. It’s a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.
The term “heart disease” is used broadly to describe a number of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Cardiovascular disease is a condition in which plaque, which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other things in the blood, builds up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. If the plaque gets big enough, it can cause a heart attack or even sudden cardiac death.
Heart Disease Across the US
The statistics on the prevalence of CVD are staggering2:
- 7 million, or 34.0% of US adults are estimated to have hypertension
- 5 million, or 11.9% of US adults are estimated to have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL
- 4 million, or 9.1% of US adults are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes
- Stroke accounted for ≈1 of every 20 deaths in the United States
- On average, someone in the US has a stroke every 40 seconds. This is about 795,000 new or recurrent stroke each year. On average, someone died of a stroke every 4 minutes.
The way to avoid becoming part of these statistics starts with some basic ideas. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t exercise, then it’s time to start (but talk to your doctor first). Strive for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each day. And if you’re eating high-fat fried foods, it’s time to give your diet a workout. Even the pharmacy chain, CVS, is making a move to carrying snacks without trans-fats, which have been linked to increases in heart disease, with its branded food products.
Heart Healthy Foods
The American Heart Association has identified foods that meet their certification program requirements. Research shows that eating these foods can lead to fewer heart disease risk factors.3 The Heart-Check mark, the front-of-package icon of the American Heart Association’s Food Certification Program, has been helping shoppers make healthier food choices for more than 20 years. It’s a useful tool for consumers constructing a healthier diet.
Whether you’re grocery shopping or dining out, the Heart-Check mark makes spotting heart-healthy foods simple. Some examples of foods in the Heart-Check Certification Program include4:
| America’s Choice Roasted Turkey Breast
|| Smithfield Foods, Inc.
| Boar’s Head Black Forest SmokeMaster
Beechwood Smoked Ham
| Boar’s Head Provisions Company, Inc.
| Simply Orange Original Pulp Free 100% Orange Juice
|| The Coca-Cola Company
| Darling Clementines
|| LGS Specialty Sales LTD
| Fresh Sweet Potatoes (US grown, orange flesh varieties)
|| The United States Sweet Potato Council, Inc.
If you’re planning a grocery store trip, look for the Heart-Check mark and get started on the road to a healthier heart. And take the first important step – talk to your doctor about your risks.
- NCHS. Deaths, percent of total deaths, and death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 10-year age groups, by race and sex: United States, 1999-2013 .
- American Heart Association – https://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-is-american-heart-month-5712350
- Choosing foods that meet Heart-Check certification requirements linked to better diet quality, study finds https://news.heart.org/choosing-foods-that-meet-heart-check-certification-requirements-linked-to-better-diet-quality-study-finds/
- Heart-Check Food Certification Program https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_474830.pdf
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