Cardiovascular disease refers to a variety of diseases and conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels like high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. 960,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular disease accounting for more than 40% of all deaths. The disease is the leading cause of death in middle age Americans, killing more than 160,000 people each year between the ages of 35-64 each year.

  • Georgia had 21% of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease in 1999.
  • Cobb County had 38% of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease in 1999.
  • Douglas County had 39% of all deaths due to cardiovascular disease in 1999.

How Can I Lower My Risk?
The good news is that for many individuals cardiovascular disease is preventable!

High Blood Pressure
Most individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) don’t recognize they have a problem because they have few symptoms. Know your blood pressure and talk to your healthcare provider about maintaining healthy numbers.

Smoking
Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Each year smoking causes more deaths from heart attacks than cancer. If you don’t smoke don’t start! If you are a smoker, make a decision to give it up right now. Just 5 years after quitting, the chances of having a heart attack are 50-70% lower for former smokers compared to current smokers. For additional information or assistance with quitting, please contact the Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP.

Physical Inactivity and Weight
Four out of five Georgians do not get regular physical activity. The percentage of overweight Georgians increased from 37% to 58% from 1984-1997. Losing weight and being physically active on a regular basis can improve high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which in turn can lower your cardiovascular risks.

Diabetes
Having Diabetes (high blood sugar) can seriously increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Talk to your doctor about your risk of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes, you can prevent heart disease complications by controlling your blood sugar levels, weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.

High Cholesterol
Watching your cholesterol should be part of everyone’s health routine. The build up of cholesterol in arteries begins early in life and worsens over time. Research shows that young adults with lower cholesterol levels live longer than those with higher levels.

Avoid:

  • Foods with saturated fat, fatty cuts of meat, poultry skin, lard and certain vegetable oils like coconut, palm kernel and palm oils.

Do:

  • Buy low-fat or fat-free dairy products; low-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise.
  • Serve margarine rather than butter with a meal.
  • Trim all visible fat from meats and cook them without the skin.
  • Eat a minimum of 5 fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Read nutrition labels for the fat content in your favorite foods.
  • Ask your physician to check your cholesterol with a lipid profile blood test at least once every 5 years. Cholesterol levels below 200 mg dL are recommended.

 

The Choices Are Up To You!

  • Watch your blood pressure
  • Eat low fat meals and snacks
  • Control diabetes
  • Stay active
  • Watch your weight
  • Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day

For more information on cardiovascular disease, contact Healthy Behaviors at 770-432-7937.