Each year, heart disease accounts for one in every four U.S. deaths — that’s about 610,000 heart disease-related deaths nationally and about 10,000 in Oklahoma each year.
To prevent heart disease — the leading cause of death nationally and in Oklahoma — the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults:
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
- Manage their weight.
- Make healthy eating choices.
- Quit smoking.
- Know their numbers, which includes cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure and blood sugar to determine if they are at risk for developing heart disease.
- Sleep seven to nine hours daily.
- Receive a regular checkup at their primary care provider.
A person’s diet, in addition to inactivity, plays a large part in the development of heart disease and other chronic health conditions.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 90 percent of U.S. adults consume more sodium than the maximum daily limit; 13 percent of adults’ total caloric intake comes from added sugar; and 11.3 percent of their caloric intake comes from fast food.
In a recent Oklahoma State Department of Health report comparing all U.S. states, Oklahoma had the third highest rate of death due to heart disease; sixth most obese population; seventh worst vegetable consumption rate; second worst fruit consumption rate; and seventh worst rate of physical activity.
When making food choices, fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables; choose whole grains; opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products; drink water and low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks; eat lean protein sources; choose low-sodium foods; and examine portion sizes.
Although preventing heart disease is preferable, it is also important that people recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, which occurs every 43 seconds in the United States.
Possible signs include discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back; discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including one or both arms, the neck, stomach, jaw or back; shortness of breath; nausea/vomiting; lightheadedness; and a cold sweat.
In women, heart disease often presents with more mild symptoms than the classic chest pains and shortness of breath, making it a silent killer. These mild yet serious symptoms may include extreme fatigue, an impending sense of doom and pain on the right side of the body (as opposed to the typical pain on the left side).
If you or a loved one experiences some of these symptoms, seek immediate medical care before it’s too late.