To Prevent Heart Disease, Little Efforts That Click Are Better Than the Big Changes That Never Stick
It may be
easier than patients think to incorporate activities that help prevent
cardiovascular disease into their daily routines, according to results
of a new survey called "Baby Steps to HeartHealth."
numerous at-risk Americans may underestimate the dangers of heart
disease the nation's number one killer there are simple and easy ways
to reduce their risk, said the survey results. From exercising while
doing household chores, to taking a daily low dose aspirin, Americans
are more likely to stick with activities that are easy to incorporate
into their everyday life.
million individuals are estimated to have some form of heart disease.
The "Baby Steps to Heart Health," survey was conducted among 1,000
at-risk Americans over age 40 and 300 cardiologists to help raise
public awareness of the dangers of heart disease and the preventative
benefits of taking small "baby" steps towards better health.
small steps, scores of at-risk Americans may be moving in the right
direction to help lower their risk of heart disease, the survey report
said. For example, many respondents said they were looking in more
natural, everyday places to seek out exercise. When asked to rank their
favorite ways of working exercise into their daily routines, survey
participants placed the following at the top of the list:
- Doing household chores (68 percent)
- Doing yard work (55 percent)
- Carrying in groceries (55 percent)
- Playing with the kids or pets (54 percent)
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator (51 percent)
"For both men
and women, these everyday activities can be a great way to begin moving
towards a more active lifestyle. But Americans need to maintain that
momentum," said MaryAnn McLaughlin, M.D., MPH of the Cardiovascular
Institute at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York. "It's the small
things that pave the way for the major lifestyle changes that can make
a huge difference in preventing cardiovascular disease."
the Association of Black Cardiologists and underwritten by a grant from
McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, makers of ST.
JOSEPH® 81mg Aspirin, the survey also found that many Americans
have trouble making the link between certain health conditions and
cardiovascular disease. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed admitted
they had at least one risk factor for heart disease, while only 23
percent believed they were personally at risk.
shows that Americans are aware of the factors that put them at-risk for
heart disease, but often do not believe they are personally at risk,"
said Dr. Malcolm Taylor, president of the Association of Black
Cardiologists. "This denial can be potentially life threatening."
surprising, when asked how challenging it would be to change or modify
a variety of behaviors, the at-risk Americans surveyed ranked the
following activities the five most difficult to adhere to:
1. Losing Weight 36 percent
2. Quitting Smoking 34 percent
3. Reducing Stress 33 percent
4. Exercising Regularly 19 percent
5. Lowering Blood Pressure 16 percent
percent of at-risk Americans and 84 percent of cardiologists felt that
taking a daily low dose aspirin was the easiest preventative measure to
integrate into a patient's lifestyle with nearly all of the
cardiologists reporting they recommend it to their at-risk patients,
the survey found. Yet, only two out of five at-risk patients surveyed
said they are currently on a low dose aspirin regimen.
recommended by a doctor, aspirin can play an important role in heart
health," said Dr. Taylor. "Americans are often uncomfortable taking
certain medications, but many of us grew up taking ST. JOSEPH®
Aspirin for the minor aches and pains of childhood and, as a result, we
feel very comfortable taking it as adults. Talk to your doctor to see
if a daily low dose 81mg aspirin can help you to avoid a heart attack
and stroke," he added.
As for gender
and heart disease, the cardiologists surveyed believed that female
patients were more likely to adhere to their treatment recommendations
than their male counterparts, estimating on average that 67 percent of
female patients follow their recommendations versus 59 percent of
males. However, this survey discovered some differences when it came to
the activities cardiologists recommended versus those that patients
considered initiating in the coming year.
shows that, for the most part, both cardiologists and consumers agree
when it comes to the activities they should incorporate into their
lives," added Dr. McLaughlin, "The challenge will be actually putting
these activities into action."
Among the simple steps Americans can follow to reduce their risk are:
- Twist or Shout but Move, Move, Move:
Increase your level of physical activity. Try simple things like
walking, cycling, dancing, gardening, playing with children or washing
- Simply Substitute!
Whenever possible substitute high fat/calorie ingredients in your
everyday cooking. Use leaner cuts of meat, remove the skin from
chicken, use olive oil instead of butter. Also try replacing snacks
like cookies and potato chips with more healthful foods you enjoy, like
fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Pass These Tests with Flying Colors:
Get your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar tested regularly.
Understand the numbers; know what they mean to your overall health.
About the Association of Black Cardiologists
The ABC is a
not-for-profit volunteer organization of more than 800 African-American
cardiologists and medical professionals that is fully accredited by the
Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).