I bet you know that heart disease is a very common condition. I bet you even know it’s deadly. But I have two questions for you:
- Did you know it’s the number one killer worldwide?
- Did you know it’s almost entirely preventable?
It’s true. Not only does heart (cardiovascular) disease kill millions of people worldwide each year, it’s also almost entirely preventable!
The truth of the matter is, most people don’t like change. In fact, they have the power to change their life, to make themselves far less susceptible to heart disease, and they simply don’t do it.
Here are a few reasons why people don’t make healthy lifestyle changes
1) Lack of information
A lot of people don’t know their risk of heart disease, much less how to minimize it. Consider this:
In 2015, 82% of the 17 million premature deaths that occurred were in low and middle-income countries, and 37% of these deaths were the result of heart disease.
Unfortunately, many people simply don’t have access to accurate health information. If they do, I believe most of them would make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve their health.
2) Time, energy, and cost
Long-term, it’s much more expensive to not take care of yourself. However, in the short-term, many people fail to recognize this and simply focus on their day-to-day lifestyle.
Therefore, exercising, eating well, and taking care of personal health is often ignored. Why? It takes time, energy, and money!
For example, a typical workday consists of getting up, driving to work, and (sometimes) feeling stressed from an ever-growing to-do list and workplace demands. After a long, hard day on the job, a lot of people are too exhausted to make a healthy meal. As a result, they grab some fast food and crash on the couch.
While this lifestyle is not sustainable, there are plenty of Americans who couldn’t imagine living any other way. This is especially true since fast food is subsidized in ways that healthier options aren’t.
3) Lack of motivation
Of course, there is always the fact that most people know they can live a healthier life. In spite of this, they simply choose not to make healthy lifestyle choices. Unfortunately, this is the category most unhealthy Americans fall into.
Lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease
The truth is, it doesn’t take much to make a major dent in these risk factors. The following factors, referred to as “Life’s Simple 7″ by the American Heart Association, decrease the risk of heart disease by 80%, stroke by 50%, and cancer by 30%.
As a result, why wouldn’t you make these changes?
The Simple 7
- Manage blood pressure
- Control cholesterol
- Reduce blood sugar
- Get active
- Eat better
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
Fortunately, none of these are hard steps to take. In fact, each step is interconnected.
For instance, quitting smoking makes it easier to exercise, and exercising regularly makes it easier to lose weight. Losing weight has been shown to help with blood pressure, and also makes exercising easier. Eating better makes exercising easier and has been proven to help you lose weight. And reducing your blood sugar makes it easier to exercise, and helps you lose weight.
Unfortunately, most Americans fail at this simple checklist. Roughly one American dies every forty seconds from cardiovascular disease. That’s more than 800,000 people each year! Put another way, roughly the entire population of Charlotte, North Carolina dies each year from heart disease in just the United States.
So, why aren’t we doing a better job preventing heart disease? Honestly, I don’t know. However, what I do know is this. We could all do a little better spreading the word and helping people make healthier lifestyle choices!
Author: Rebecca Evans, RN from GeriatricNursing.org