Prevention the Focus of World Heart Day

Today, September 29, is World Heart Day, a campaign designed to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death worldwide.

This year, the World Heart Federation wants to focus on the four main risk factors for heart disease and lifestyle changes that can help improve heart health.

Lifestyle Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Harmful use of alcohol

By making healthier choices in these four key areas, it is estimated that 80 per cent of premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease could be avoided. With over 17 million annual deaths globally attributed to heart disease and stroke, the World Health Organization has set a target to reduce premature CVD deaths 25 per cent by 2025. With an aging population sharing limited resources, a call to action now can help reverse the rising number of cardiovascular deaths.

Eating a healthy diet, getting more daily exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and stopping smoking can significantly reduce the risk for CVD. Within hours of quitting smoking, carbon monoxide and oxygen levels in blood return to normal and within 5 years the risk of stroke can be reduced to that of a non-smoker.

And even if you have led a sedentary life, it’s never too late to start getting regular physical activity to improve heart health and keep off the extra pounds. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week including cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking as well as strength training to keep muscles strong and help burn fat.  Start slowly and always talk with your doctor before beginning any new activity.

Eating a healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts, legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils can also help fight CVD and control your weight. Limiting sugar and alcohol (one drink per day for women and no more than two for men) also plays an important role in staying healthy in older age.

For many more healthy living resources, visit the American Heart Association website at .