This is the Difference that Separates Healthy Hearts From Unhealthy Ones, According to New Study

Heart disease stands as the primary cause of mortality in the United States. Shockingly, one American lost their life to cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds. In the year 2021, approximately 695,000 individuals in the United States succumbed to heart disease, representing a staggering 1 in every 5 deaths.

Among the various types of heart disease, coronary heart disease emerged as the most prevalent, claiming the lives of 375,476 individuals in 2021. Moreover, it is alarming to note that a heart attack occurs every 40 seconds in the United States.

For women belonging to the Pacific Islands, Asian Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Hispanic communities, heart disease stands as the second leading cause of death, surpassed only by cancer.

To combat heart disease effectively, it is crucial to adopt certain lifestyle measures, primarily focusing on exercise and diet. Engaging in regular physical activity, particularly among individuals at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, has proven benefits for heart health and can aid in reducing disparities related to cardiovascular health. A recent scientific statement published in the peer-reviewed journal Circulation by the American Heart Association (AHA) supports this notion.

Sustaining a strong heart requires incorporating physical activity into daily routines, and a 20-minute brisk walk each day is a key component. However, certain groups may face additional obstacles that may impact their ability to engage in a daily walk.

The findings of the study revealed “that many groups who have poor heart health also have low levels of physical activity,” said Gerald J. Jerome, Ph.D., FAHA, volunteer chair of the writing committee for the scientific statement and a professor in the department of kinesiology at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.

“We know regular physical activity is a key component of optimal heart health. These findings provide an opportunity to focus our efforts on physical activity programs in places where people need them the most.”

Regular physical activity is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle, serving as one of the key metrics in Life’s Essential 8—a checklist established by the American Heart Association to assess cardiovascular health. Life’s Essential 8 encompasses four health factors: blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and body mass index. Additionally, it emphasizes four behavioral and lifestyle factors: smoking status, physical activity, sleep patterns, and diet choices. Adhering to these factors has been proven to effectively prevent and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Unfortunately, statistics reveal that less than a quarter of American adults meet the recommended physical activity levels outlined in the guidelines set by the US Department of Health and Human Services—a framework strongly endorsed by the American Heart Association. According to these guidelines, adults should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Achieving this target can be as simple as incorporating a daily 20-minute walk into your routine.

Jerome and the members of the writing committee conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the most recent scientific research on physical activity programs designed to enhance physical activity levels in specific populations. Certain groups of individuals with preexisting heightened risk factors for cardiovascular disease exhibited lower levels of physical activity. Notably, adults in advanced age brackets, females, individuals of Black ethnicity, those with disabilities, people experiencing depression, individuals with lower socioeconomic status, as well as those living in rural areas or less pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, displayed decreased engagement in physical activity .

“Unfortunately, many groups that have a higher risk of developing heart disease also on average report lower amounts of physical activity,” Jerome added.

Source: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001148

Image Credit: Getty

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