97% of Americans Have Unhealthy Hearts – Here are 7 Solutions
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 97% of Americans have poor heart health. Seeing as America ranks last when compared to 16 other comparable countries, it is no surprise to see that only 3% of the U.S. population have healthy hearts.
For the study, which is the first to focus on cardiovascular health at a state level, researchers examined surveys taken from over 350,000 individuals. They focused on what the American Heart Association deems the most important factors for heart health:
- Body mass index
- Blood Pressure
- Physical activity
- Fruit and vegetable consumption
- Total cholesterol
While the results varied from state to state, it was found that just 3% of the entire surveyed population reported having ideal heart health, while about 10% reported having poor heart health. Poor heart health was represented by having only 1 or 2 heart-health factors at optimal levels.
Jing Fang, M.D., M.S., an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention in Atlanta, Ga, says, “Americans reported having on average more than four of the seven risk factors for heart disease. We also found large disparities by age, sex, race/ethnicity and levels of education.”
Donna Arnett, Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association and author of an editorial that accompanies the Fang paper in JAHA concludes:
“The comparisons offered by Fang and colleagues illustrate a critical point: Cardiovascular health status in the United States varies considerably by age, sex, race/ethnicity and education as well as by state. This diversity necessitates that innovative, customized strategies be developed to most effectively improve cardiovascular health for specific states and among subpopulations.”
How to Really Boost Heart Health
While many of the factors outlined by the American Heart Association are indeed risk factors for heart disease, some don’t address the underlining issue. Blood pressure, diabetes, and total cholesterol and BMI (which aren’t entirely relevant anyway), can all be mended with proper diet and physical activity. Let’s take a look at each factor individually:
- 1. Smoking – As the harsh truths about smoking continue to surface, there is no question that Big Tobacco’s time is slowly running out. For both smokers and those ingesting second-hand smoke, heart health suffers, and heart disease risk increases. Luckily, you can stop this health-hazardous activity just by making a choice. What will happen when you quit smoking is incredibly beneficial, with the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks reducing significantly within just 1 year of quitting.
- 2. Diabetes – Anything from inactivity to consuming way to much sugar could spike your risk of diabetes and compromise heart health. The answer? Live a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly, consuming fruits and vegetables, and limiting sugar consumption. To further reduce your risk of diabetes or even reverse you could try utilizing magnesium, turmeric, herbs like fenugreek, ginseng, or cinnamon for diabetes (a very popular solution).
- 3. Body Mass Index – Body mass index, which is a measure of body fat based on height and weight, is currently the primary way to determine if a person is at a healthy “thickness” or “thinness”. But is isn’t a great indicator. Many studies have found that a high BMI is associated with a lower risk of death, which is a bit paradoxical. What should be known, though, is that waist size is seen as an indicator for heart attack risk. What this ultimately means is that most people need to lose weight to promote heart health.
- 4. Blood Pressure – Like diabetes, blood pressure can very often be mended through physical activity and diet. Start by avoiding foods with fructose, soda, and processed foods while incorporating more fruit, veggies, potatoes, vitamin C, potassium, papayas, chocolate, apples (with the skin), olive oil, or a number of other foods into your diet. Further, aim for around 7 hours of sleep each night.
- 5. Physical Activity – Sadly, most Americans are physically inactive, which contributes to just about every illness and disease. Not only will exercise reduce diabetes risk, the desire to smoke, obesity (BMI in many cases), and promote heart health, but it will add years to your life.
- 6. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption – Unlike other health ‘fads’ or ‘trends’, the health recommendation to consume more fruit and vegetables to optimize health is one that has lived on even until today – and it will continue to. Fruit and vegetables are whole foods containing numerous vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other essential nutrients, without any added ingredients. This is nature’s gift that has been proven time and time again to boost overall health. Vegans and vegetarians recognize this fact; it’s time for the rest of the population to recognize it as well.
- 7. Total Cholesterol – The AHA will have you believe that high cholesterol levels are a heavy indicator for heart health and heart disease risk, but this cholesterol myth has long been debunked. If you would like to maintain ‘healthy’ total cholesterol levels to still feel better, though, simply consume more fruit and vegetables, spicy foods, papaya extract, almonds, watermelons, or tangerines, to name a few specific foods.
With heart health at such low levels, it’s no surprise to see countless people turning to pharmaceuticals like statins. Don’t be one to fall for this trick. Statins are linked to over 300 different adverse side effects, and are not necessary to boost heart health. One doctor has even found in his research that lifestyle changes can be as (if not more) effective than statins at maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Adherence to statins, Ornish says, is only about 30% after 3-4 months. An intensive lifestyle change program including diet and exercise, however, has about 85 to 90% adherence after 12 months.
Take control and boost heart health by eating organic, exercising, and consuming plenty of healthful foods.
Mike is the co-founder, editor, and researcher behind Natural Society. Studying the work of top natural health activists, and writing special reports for top 10 alternative health websites, Mike has written hundreds of articles and pages on how to obtain optimum wellness through natural health.