All of us have been touched by heart disease, either personally or through loved ones. Up to 60% of adults will have a heart attack, stroke or heart failure in their lifetime. Those numbers can seem overwhelming, but did you know you can lower your risk of heart disease and premature death by up to 80%?
Health, disease and death can seem arbitrary at times. We learn of a healthy, young person who has a heart attack, stroke, or other serious health problems, and it reminds us this could happen to us as well. We are frightened by the lack of predictability. It feels unfair, and sometimes it is. Yet, the reality is we are most often the ones who control our health and the length of our life
Make the right choices in 7 areas, and you can not only lower your risk of heart disease by up to 80%, but you can also cut your risk of stroke by half, and reduce your risk of cancer and dementia by 1/3.
Early in my career as a cardiologist, I briefly met a patient who drove the importance of this point home for me.
I received a call that a 50-year-old man was being brought to the hospital with a heart attack. I’ve received these calls many times in my career, and usually rushing the person to the cath lab to open the blocked artery is a life-saving procedure.
Except, it didn’t work this time.
Despite every effort, we were not able to save this man. The entire team was heartbroken. Having to tell his wife, three children, and his mother that he didn’t make it and witnessing their pain is something I will never forget.
The fact that it was entirely preventable just made it worse.
I learned this hard-working family man had spent his life building his career and providing for his family. But he hadn’t taken care of his health.
And the price was devastating.
I decided I would spend my professional life helping people avoid a similar outcome.
Life’s Simple 7
So, what are the 7 “magic” factors that are so powerful in predicting your health and the length of your life?
The American Heart Association calls them “Life’s Simple 7”.
Seven measures of health that can save your life – or the life of someone you love.
- Being physically active.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Not smoking.
- Healthy weight.
- Healthy blood pressure numbers.
- Healthy cholesterol numbers.
- Healthy blood sugar numbers.
I wish I could have met the 50-year-old man whose life was taken too soon before that fateful night. He likely wasn’t aware of the opportunity he had or the consequences of not taking care of himself.
I would have liked to have had the chance to let him know.
If you have heart disease or are concerned about your risk, it’s critical to know that YOU can decide your fate. You don’t have to be perfect. Every additional health measure added will significantly decrease your risk and improve the quality of your life.
We have proof. Heart disease and stroke are not inevitable. The power is in your hands.