By now, most of us know that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the U.S. in both men and women. One out of every four deaths will be from heart disease each year. You might find interesting, that 85% of people with diabetes ultimately die from heart disease. Smoking is the number one risk factor of heart disease, and we see that diabetes and obesity are close behind.
The number one message for lowering your heart disease risk is to stop smoking if you smoke. The second one is to lose weight if you are overweight.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, published June 30, 2015, looked at the Cardiovascular Mortality Associated With 5 Leading Risk Factors. The 5 leading preventable risk factors are:
By the way, this study was based on self reported data and baseline risk factors. Those are limitations to this particular study. What does that tell me? It tells me that the baseline risk represents both known and unknown risk factors and it also tells me that self reported data is flawed because it is our very human nature to insert some “Pollyanna”-ishness into it. Then , I draw my own conclusion that this study is underestimating the impact that modifiable risk factors have on heart disease; i.e., making healthy choices.
I become an instant skeptic when I read studies. It is good to look for biases and the structure of a clinical trial, yet my very basic questions to the authors are either, “what are you selling?” or “who are you representing?”, or “what is it that you want to prove?”. They are human too.
I have had the privilege to learn from many physicians over the past 15 years. In the past several, I have observed stenting in the Cath labs with remarkable Cardiologists, and open heart surgeries in the OR of the best Cardiovascular Surgeons in Central and West Texas, if not the country. One CV surgeon shared with me that, “It is hard for people to change”, when I initiated a discussion around diet. He said some of his patients may change for a while and go back to their before heart surgery habits. These surgeons have seen it all; families bringing in burgers and chicken fried steak and milkshakes for their heart surgery recovering family member. Even after having their chest cracked open? What does it take? Sometimes fear is a motivator and sometimes it isn’t, or at least not long term, once the fear fades.
We die from heart disease because we are neglecting our health and making poor choices. Two unmodifiable risk factors are age and genetics. Arteriosclerosis will progress naturally with age, but that doesn’t mean you will die from it. You can beat more than you can imagine with a healthy diet, physical activity and stress management (peacefulness, happiness…). We want to control what we can.
With great compassion, I want to recognize there is much more disease in poorer areas and in less educated populations. There may be resources available to these populations, yet, then transportation is an issue, or internet access is an issue, or lack of support is an issue. There are food deserts, there are welfare issues, there are opportunity issues. This is a major problem on many counts, yet this is not the topic of this blog.
This blog is for the person who is ready to change yet feels stuck and frustrated and can’t seem to “start”. All it takes is for you to decide.
I was recently at the City of Georgetown’s employee health fair on behalf of St. David’s Georgetown Medical Center. A City of Georgetown employee walked up to me and asked, “Do you have a smoking cessation program? I need to stop smoking.” He had just received his biometric screening numbers and he didn’t like what he saw. He was ready to change. Boom! Those are the magical moments! You have had those moments before, when you change on a dime! It feels good!
It is time to get frustrated, fed up, scared, and to feel pain, anger or disgust and connect it to what you value; i.e., to be happier, healthier, stronger, more energy and to look good. What is it for you?
Live Healthy. Dream Big. Be Bold.
Daily Victories: www.youtube.com/user/healthinspires
My passion and purpose is helping people reach their full potential and master their wellbeing.
Disclosure: Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before beginning any diet or exercise program and ask whether you are healthy enough to engage in a diet and exercise program. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider concerning your overall health and wellness, including your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. It is your choice to follow the suggestions, opinions and advice given by a Health Inspires wellness coach.