February may be one of the biggest unhealthy food months with the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day, but it also marks Heart Health Month. It's a great month to start making small changes towards a healthier you. Heart disease claims the lives of about 1 million Americans every year, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women.
Human behavior contributes strongly to health outcomes. Most preventable deaths and illnesses in the United States are directly caused by human behaviors. A study conducted at the Karolinska Institute found that if you change these five habits, nearly 80% of heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions could be prevented by:
1. Not smoking or taking steps to quit smoking
Tobacco is the agent most responsible for avoidable illness and death in America today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use brings premature death to almost half a million Americans each year. In WNY, the smoking rate is 21.9%, which is much higher than the NYS Prevention Agenda target of 12.3%.
2. Getting adequate exercise
Becoming physically active is critical to preventing heart disease and other diseases. People who have access to fitness and recreation centers are more prone to exercising. In WNY, the number of fitness and recreation centers per 1,000 population is 0.10 compared to the U.S. value of 0.06 facilities per 1,000 population. Though the number of fitness and recreation centers in WNY may be slightly higher than the U.S. value, it is still not significant.
3. Abstaining from alcohol or drinking only moderate amounts
Alcohol abuse is associated with a variety of negative health and safety outcomes. In a 2014 survey of WNYers, 18.8% of adults reported to binge drinking in the last 30 days, which is slightly higher than the NYS Prevention Agenda target of 18.4%. Male binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion, and female binge drinking is four or more drinks on one occasion.
4. Maintaining a normal Body mass index (BMI)
Being overweight or obese has a major effect on quality of life and puts individuals at risk for developing many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Losing weight helps to prevent and control these diseases. According to the Body Mass Index (BMI), 63.7% of adults in WNY are overweight or obese, which is slightly higher than the NY value of 60.5%.
5. Sleeping for 7 or more hours per day
Sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Ongoing sleep deficiency has been linked to chronic health conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. The percentage of adults who report fewer than 7 hours of sleep on average for Western New York range from 33.1% (Allegany County) to 36.9% (Erie County).
Looking at Chautauqua
Did you know that Chautauqua County has among the highest rates of heart attack and stroke deaths in all of New York State, even among those under age sixty-five? Did you know that 80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable?
The Chautauqua Health Action Team (CHAT) established a goal of preventing 250 heart attacks, strokes, and related deaths in Chautauqua County in the coming year. 250 lives are our part in helping the Million Hearts Initiative prevent a million heart attacks and strokes nationwide.
In Chautauqua County, from 2013-2015, the age-adjusted death rate due to coronary heart disease is 125.6 deaths per 100,000 population, much higher than the Healthy People 2020 target rate of 103.4.
In Chautauqua County, from 2013-2015, the age-adjusted death rate due to cerebrovascular disease (stroke) is 36.5 deaths per 100,000 population. Although over the years, the trend over time shows a significant positive change in deaths associated with stroke, the current rate is still higher than the Healthy People 2020 target rate of 34.8.
In Support of the CHQ 250 campaign, we joined the save hearts pledge, committing to:
Follow CHQ 250 on Facebook at CHQ250 for some more information from the CHQ 250 Team!