February is American Heart Month, an annual awareness campaign that started in 1963. To raise awareness, we’d like to take a moment to discuss the seriousness of heart disease in America, and what you can do to help. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) - including stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure - is the current leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
According to the CDC:
About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. (2009-2010 statistic)
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually. (2009-2010 statistic)
Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. (2009-2010 statistic)
Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $300 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity. (2014 statistic)
A number of factors can help lower your risk of CVD and promote a healthy heart. These include simple changes like increasing physical activity. While strenuous exercise, such as running, cycling, and other cardio vascular routines, are ideal, there are also a few simple changes you can make to increase the amount of physical activity you do in your day-to-day. If you are able to, try a few of the following changes:
Walk around the office or outside the building for a portion of your lunch break
Walk to your co-worker to ask a question rather than text or e-mail
Stand at your desk more often than you sit, and perform simple stretches while doing so
Park farther away from the store entrance
When putting bags away, try grabbing one bag at a time to increase the number of trips to the car and back
Again, more routine workouts will provide better results, but the above listed activities are a good place to start for those who are short on time. Buddying up can also help people remain more motivated about working out, so try looking to www.meetup.com or other community websites for a workout group in your area.
Another factor that can decrease your risk is maintaining a healthy diet. We understand that unfortunately processed foods with little nutritional value tend to be cheaper than healthier choices. In light of this, here are a few cheap ways to eat healthy.
Buy from a local farmers market, many of which have started accepting SNAP and WIC benefits. Call first to confirm whether your market accepts SNAP and WIC. This is preferred because of the environmental, community, and economical impact it has on your local market. It also allows for a sometimes cheaper alternative than most grocery stores, and fresh foods tends taste better.
Do not break your budget going “organic”. Organic foods are not any more nutritional or harmful to your body than their non-organic counterparts. While going organic may have a bit less of an environmental impact, if your focus is eating healthy without going into debt, feel at ease buying non-organic fruits and vegetables.
Another health myth we’d like to address is canned fruits and vegetables being unhealthy. This ultimately depends upon the amount of sugar and sodium added into the can. If you buy a low sodium or non-syrupy mixture, than rest assured that the fact the food is canned has virtually no impact on its nutritional value. Again, the reasons fresh fruits and vegetables are better are because their flavor is better preserved and their textures are sound. They also have less waste and are more environmentally friendly. Nutritionally speaking, however, canned food is perfectly fine.
We would also like to recommend having regular check ups with your primary physician and monitoring things like blood pressure and cholesterol. These simple tips can help have a positive influence on your health.