Family is Why

Today I attended a virtual meeting from the National Forum for Heart Disease and stroke Prevention, here are a few things I think are important to share, please read to the bottom!:

The Bad Stuff
1. Stroke related deaths are increasing at an alarming rate in 35-64 year olds, primarily related to poor control of Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity

2. There are tremendous disparities for African Americans, who are 1 ½ times more likely to die from a stroke

3. The REGARDS study found that a large contribution of the disparity in death rates is related to Diet, with fried and processed foods and sugary drinks being the number one reason for poor hypertension control.

4. We expect a 22% increase in stroke by 2030

The Good Stuff

1. Up to 80% of strokes are preventable

2. TPA (the blot busting drug) is now given to 11% of all eligible patients (up from 5%)

3. Small changes in behavior can make a huge difference in managing risk factors

4. When risk factors are managed, stroke rates significantly decrease.

What can you Do?

1. First and foremost, Mind Your Risks! Know where you stand, and start managing your risk factors today.

2. Work with your clinician or wellness provider to get your blood pressure to 120/80 or less. There are a lot of things you can do besides medication, and in many cases, High blood pressure can be reversed with lifestyle change.

3. Add color to your plate. Diet is the primary contributor to high blood pressure, and its not about salt! Limit or completely stay away from fried and processed foods and sugary drinks. They are worse than drinking alcohol!

4. Exercise! I know you’ve heard this before, but we were not designed to sit all day. You should be moving consistently throughout your day, walking as often as you can, and taking the stairs. Even if you are challenged with mobility issues, in 99% of the cases, there are still things you can do to get more active, so be creative.

5. Rest. Our bodies need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to function properly. A few missed hours here and there isn’t bad, but when you consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep each night, your stroke and heart disease risk dramatically increases. If you are challenged with insomnia there are things you can do to prepare your body for sleep. Don’t rely solely on medication.

6. Change your mindset. Cardiovascular disease isn’t the number one cause of death in the US—Behaviors are the number one cause of death in the US. Both cardiovascular disease and cancer are preventable in many cases with lifestyle change. Yet, only 6% of Americans engage in the top 5 health and wellness activities to support healthy aging (No smoking, regular exercise, No or limited alcohol intake, maintain a healthy body weight, and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night).

I know first hand how hard is it to make lasting lifestyle changes to support your health. But I also know that it can be done. I had a wake-up call that almost killed me. Don’t sweep this under the rug, or tell yourself you’ll start that diet or exercise program next week, because you may not get next week.

My family is my Why. I can’t imagine my children growing up without a mother, or my husband having to take care of our 4 kids without me. Find your why, because it will keep you disciplined when your motivation ends.

What are your questions? What are you challenged with the most? How can I help?