This Wednesday, September 29th, Is World Heart Day, a day created by the World Heart Federation to find ways to fight the CVD (cardiovascular disease) that kills 18.6 million people per year. The Federation says that 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be prevented. It seems to me we could add a lot of time spent with our families if we could prevent 80% of premature deaths.
As we get older our bodies age differently, but the fact of the matter is, every body part becomes less efficient as we grow older. None of us escapes the deterioration of time. For example, I just returned from a week spent with my Air Force friends. We have been getting together every two years for over 40 years. As you might imagine when we first flew together, as B-52 crew members, we were in good physical condition. Over the years we all have developed different maladies that have caused us problems and made us slow down. Last week we met in Colorado and took one day to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove on the winding road higher and higher into the Rockies until we stopped at the visitor center that happened to be at 11,796 feet above sea level. As we walked around at that altitude, we all felt the effects of the thin air but some of us felt it more than others. I’m sure the condition of our heart had something to do with our fatigue and shortness of breath at that altitude. There is no doubt that myself and my fellow Air Force brothers could improve our heart health if we would follow the heart hints published by the Heart Federation.
The Federation identifies 4 areas where we could improve our heart health
- Diabetes – People living with diabetes are twice as likely to develop and die from cardiovascular disease.
- Physical Inactivity – Around 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week reduces the risk of heart disease by 30% and the risk of diabetes by 27%.
- Cholesterol – Raised Cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths and is implicated in heart diseases and stroke.
- Tobacco – Globally, tobacco causes some 6 million deaths a year and poses a major risk for developing heart disease—it is also a highly preventable risk. Around 1.2 million deaths are due to exposure to second-hand smoke.
While we probably all know someone who has suffered some of the common heart problems, like clogged arteries or leaky valves. There are medicines and surgeries that can help with those problems. There are, however, rare heart problems that we may not know about and may be hard to diagnosis. Click here to read more about these rare heart diseases.
I think the leaflet that the Federation has developed gives us some concise information about improving our heart health and some excellent resources for educating those around us about heart health. I lost my brother to a sudden and instantly fatal heart attack. I’ve always wondered if there were some warning signs that I missed or some things he could have done to prevent his untimely death.
I recently went through a battery of cardiovascular tests, including a stress test, and it has given me a sense of relief that my heart is in good condition. If I pay attention to the guidance put forth by the World Heart Federation, I should be able to continue having good heart health. I urge all of you to take some time on World Heart Day to find out how you can improve your heart health.