By Matt Gross, CNP
Monument Health Heart & Vascular Institute
As we briefly pause to celebrate American Heart Month, we jointly embrace 2021 with a new optimism that has been reaffirmed by a continual decline in COVID-19 cases across South Dakota. By all measures, 2020 was a difficult year for the overall health of Americans who faced a surge of coronavirus infections that spread across the county.
Last year saw COVID-19 coverage dominating the news and for good reason— as of this writing 442,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease. Nonetheless, despite the magnitude of the pandemic, we should not forget that heart disease remained the leading killer in the United States even throughout 2020. Long before the COVID-19 added stress to our lives ,the progressive epidemic that had led to the first ever decline in U.S. life expectancy had already taken root. By this I am referring broadly to the obesity epidemic.
An unhealthy lifestyle, influenced by a host of factors, has led to a tripling of the U.S. obesity rate over that past 50 years. In addition to the obesity epidemic magnifying the severity of the pandemic several fold, it has also cemented its role in keeping heart disease and its associated risk factors as major health threats to the average U.S. citizen.
But there is good news — as we have significant control over these factors! In 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson announced February as American Heart Month, and urged Americans “to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about the solution.” As we celebrate National Heart Month, it’s important to recognize the magnitude of the crisis we face as a country when it comes to the root causes of heart disease and individually commit to taking action. For all of the progress our modern health care system has made since Johnson’s address to the public in 1964, the most significant thing we can do to drastically reduce the risk of heart disease is adhering to a heart healthy lifestyle.
Regular exercise, and proper nutrition are the closest we likely ever will come to the proverbial fountain of youth and this month is as good as time as ever to adopt or maintain a heart healthy lifestyle. The CDC estimates 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable through a healthy lifestyle. When we LiveWell we feel well and there is no price that can ever be put on that. Cheers to a fantastic 2021 to you all!