February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death. Together, heart disease and stroke, along with other cardiovascular diseases, are among the most widespread and costly health problems in the country today. It’s estimated that they result in $320 billion in health care expenditures and related expenses. Fortunately, they are among the most preventable. Controllable risk factors for heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, poor diet and physical inactivity, and being overweight or obese. Uncontrolled, they can lead to heart attacks, heart failure and strokes and a life of chronic cardiovascular disease.
Addressing them is a challenge and should start early in life. Making significant changes in diet, exercise, and control of blood pressure and cholesterol, along with smoking cessation and appropriate aspirin use, can substantially reduce these risk factors. RVNA has a chronic disease management program to help those suffering from cardiovascular disease better control their risk factors and stay out of the hospital. In addition, our registered dietitian, Meg Whitbeck, can advise on dietary changes to improve overall health, and Rehab by RVNA, our outpatient rehabilitative therapy center, provides staffing and facilities to exercise your way to better health. For more information, call 203-438-5555.