World Heart Day is celebrated every year on September 29th. Officially created by the World Heart Federation, this day was developed to educate on and raise awareness in order to prevent against cardiovascular disease.  

What are cardiovascular diseases, or CVDs? 

According to the World Health Organization, CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels including coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral arterial disease. 

What are the risk factors? 

Although some cardiovascular diseases are from birth or other underlying factors, most CVDs can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use in any form, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol. These risk factors cause plaque, which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood, to build up inside the coronary arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Heart attacks and strokes are mainly caused by such blockages because blood is prevented from flowing to the brain or heart. 

What are the stats? 

Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death. 

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. 

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, claim 18.6 million lives every year. 

How is it prevented?  

  • Stopping tobacco use 
  • Reducing salt in your diet 
  • Eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains 
  • Participating in regular physical activity and exercise 
  • Stopping harmful use of alcohol 

All of these have been proven to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. It is important to talk to your provider on how to monitor your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk for developing CVDs in the future.