A National Center for Health Statistics study release earlier this year points a very grim picture when it comes to the prevalence of heart disease among the population of the U.S.
The study concluded that nearly half of the U.S. population has at least one of three diagnosed or undiagnosed chronic conditions -- high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Additionally, the study showed that nearly 15% of adults had two of these conditions. All three of the conditions increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, a condition that affects more than 81 million Americans and accounts for one out of every three deaths in the U.S.
While the study went into great detail examining how these three conditions have affected the population across ethnic and racial groups, the fact is that we are facing a real threat of an epidemic of cardiovascular diseases in this country. While great medical advances have been made in technology and research, it ultimately is up to each of us to make sure that we are leading healthy lives.
With the holiday season fast approaching it is important remind ourselves how the foods we consume affect our overall health, especially our heart health. While an article in the New York Times in 2007 reported that the average weight gain during the holidays is only about one pound, the bad news is that that one pound will never go away and that for those that are already considered overweight, the average weight gain is actually much higher (five pounds or more.) This can raise the likelihood of obesity for many, which will accentuate the gravity of all three chronic conditions listed above.
The high sugar, high sodium, and high fat goodies that are readily available during the holidays are a real temptation that can be hard to pass up (believe me, I know!). Especially during the holidays practicing moderation in our eating habits is important, and remember that eating slower will help your stomach realize that it is full sooner. Finally, when it comes to that big turkey dinner next week get out for a nice pre and post-dinner walk - both your stomach and heart will thank you for it!