February is Heart Month, a time to bring attention to the importance of cardiovascular health and how best to support it with simple lifestyle changes.
Heart disease affects approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults and is the second leading cause of death in Canada. (1) As of 2018, 30.3 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020, or 1 in 5 deaths. (2,3)
Nine actions to maintain cardiovascular health
There are various factors affecting your likelihood of having cardiovascular problems. For example, if you are a woman aged 55 and up, or a man aged 45 and up, you may be at a greater risk. You may also have a higher risk if your parents or siblings have cardiovascular problems. (1,4,5,6)
On the other hand, other risk factors are modifiable, meaning that you can do something to help lower your risk and maintain good heart health:
- Stop smoking: tobacco is the 1st cause of preventable cardiovascular mortality. Smoking two to four cigarettes a day triples the relative risk of cardiovascular events;
- Reduce your alcohol consumption: The widely held belief that alcohol protects against coronary artery disease has been more nuanced recently, with evidence suggesting that it may increase the risks of hypertension, heart failure, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and hemorrhagic stroke while offering limited to no benefit for ischemic heart disease;
- Eat healthy: adopt the Mediterranean diet. This diet consists in eating foods that are rich in monounsaturated fat, high in complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, and high in fish;
- Check your cholesterol level: an excess of LDL, also known as « bad cholesterol » is dangerous for your health in the long term. It deteriorates the arteries and favors clots and vascular accidents;
- Check your blood pressure: High blood pressure is too much pressure in the arteries. It weakens the heart prematurely;
- Monitor your weight and waist size: Waist size is a much more relevant indicator of cardiovascular risk than body mass index. Indeed, adipose tissue plays an essential role in our metabolism. An excess of abdominal fat has an impact on heart health;
- Get regular physical activity: a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of activity is generally recommended, ideally, every day, if not at least five days a week (brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, etc.);
- Learn to manage your stress; stress is one of the main causes of heart attacks after smoking and cholesterol;
- Get good sleep: If you sleep less than 6 hours a night, you double your risk of stroke and heart attack;
Cardiovascular health stems from properly managing various metabolic components grouped under the umbrella of « metabolic health ». These include maintaining optimal cholesterol and triglycerides levels, healthy blood glucose, blood pressure and body composition.
Did you know that only 1 in 8 Americans is considered metabolically healthy? (7)
Such a low rate of metabolic health in the population illustrates the challenges of implementing and maintaining those lifestyle interventions in the long term. Specific dietary ingredients with proven benefits for maintaining metabolic health may help more people achieve and sustain their cardiovascular health.
InnoVactiv has a recognized expertise in metabolic health.
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7 Araújo J et al. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009- 2016. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2019 Feb;17(1):46-52