It’s not surprising that a large majority of Americans have lifestyle factors that contribute to cardiovascular diseases.  In a study presented at the annual American Heart Association (AHA) meeting they found that fewer than 3 in 10 Americans meet four of seven goals for heart health. 

The AHA established seven lifestyle changes that people could implement to improve their heart health called “Life’s Simple 7”.  This is all part of the campaign to reduce cardiovascular disease in Americans 20% by the year 2020.  The seven changes are as follows:

  1. Maintaining a body mass indexof 18.5 to 24.5.
  2. Maintaining at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (this includes activities of daily life).
  3. Quitting smoking at least one year ago, or never smoking.
  4. Total cholesterol levels below 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
  5. Blood pressure below 120/80.
  6. Blood sugar levels of less than 100 mg/dL.
  7. Meeting four of five of the AHA’s key componentsfor a healthy diet.

The AHA’s recommendation for a healthy diet is:

  • More than 4 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • Eating oily fish such as salmon, trout, and herring at least twicea week.
  • Treating yourself to sweets sparingly.
  • Three or more servings of whole grains a day.
  • Eating fewer than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.

 The dietary requirement is usually the hardest one for most people to meet each day.  Work and family schedules can inhibit a healthy diet.  However, losing weight and increasing your activity can go a long way to reduce blood cholesterol and sugar.  Simple changes to your diet, increasing activity and losing weight can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30-40%. 

Don’t try to make all the changes at once, start with those changes that you know you can stick to then gradually add one new change per month.  In a year’s time you could have a healthier outlook on life!