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It’s American Heart Month, and a good time to start living a healthier lifestyle.

As Ohio Valley residents, however, we are plagued with leading many areas of the country in illnesses including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The statistics are sobering:

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined, according to the heart association.

• One person dies from cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Nearly one half of all U.S. adults have some type of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

• Cardiovascular ailments led to 859,125 deaths in 2017, the heart association added.

According to the CDC, the death rate for all heart disease between 2016 and 2018 in Jefferson County was 485.2 per 100,000 residents. There are similar statistics for deaths per 100,000 residents in surrounding counties, with Harrison County at 431.9, Columbiana County at 413 and Belmont County at 433.7.

In West Virginia, the rates were 486.2 in Hancock County, 442 in Brooke County and 358.2 in Ohio County.

And in Pennsylvania, the rates were 370.4 in Beaver County, 322.5 in Washington County and 360.6 in Allegheny County.

The good news is that it’s really not too late to start leading a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Moderation in food consumption is one key to becoming healthier. Cutting some calories and just eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole-grain foods, can go a long way in helping someone to feel better.

It’s important to remember, too, that fad diets and radical changes aren’t always the best route for someone wanting to improve his or her health. Sound advice from experts includes staying the course with a long-term heart-healthy food regimen.

Also important for a healthy heart is taking part in some physical activity. Even walking 20 to 30 minutes each day brings many benefits and gets your heart pumping. Remember that increased physical activity and eating healthier may help bring blood pressure and blood sugar readings to better levels.

Remember, too, that smoking is a major risk for heart disease and strokes, according to the American Heart Association. Smoking can block the blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and even secondhand smoking is dangerous and increases a person’s risk for a heart attack, AHA officials have said.

We’re asking area residents to become more conscious of their heart health starting today. Small steps today can lead to a healthier lifestyle and ultimately a longer life.



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