Kimberly Garrison: Take your health to heart this Valentine's Day

Posted: February 14, 2013

AS WE celebrate Valentine's Day on Thursday, this is an opportune time to talk heart health with the ones we love.

Just in case you need a little reminder, the No. 1 silent killer of all Americans, regardless of education, race or social-economic status, is coronary heart disease, the result of plaque blockages in the arteries that supply oxygen to the heart.

Approximately every 30 seconds, an American is stricken with some kind of coronary event, according to the American Heart Association. About every minute, someone loses the battle and dies.

It is estimated that more than 920,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year.

These sobering statistics heighten my awareness and increase my motivation to stay on the path to good heart health.

And here's one more number to think about: Experts say as much as 80 percent of heart disease is preventable through lifestyle choices.

What about genetics, you ask?

Well, that takes up the other 20 percent - playing a much smaller role than most of us realize. But that's good news, because now we can stop using genetics as an excuse and turn our attention to the poor choices we make.

We can work on the five preventable risk factors: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Though challenging, these are all conditions we can minimize, prevent or reverse.

We have direct control over these risk factors that are responsible for so much pain, suffering and death, not to mention spending. Cardiovascular disease in the U.S. cost an estimated $444 billion in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Ouch!

So let's review: While genetics and aging may play a role in our heart health, the most important variable is lifestyle.

That's where you come in. Because lifestyle is the great game-changer, you are in the driver's seat when it comes to heart health, based on the choices you make every day.

Share the love!

This Valentine's Day, let's shower the ones we love with roses, a big box of healthy-heart strategies to live by - and a small box of chocolates.


Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.

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