Healthier Together: How you can reduce the risk of the leading cause of death nationwide

The numbers speak for themselves.

Heart disease in the leading cause of death for men and women nationwide, according to the C.D.C. One person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease.

The silver lining, according to Dr. Mary Ann Bauman: 80% of heart disease is preventable.

“We are victims of an abundant lifestyle. We want fast. We want easy,” Dr. Bauman, who is also the board president of the American Heart Association’s Western States Region, said. “We’ve gotten away from regular exercise. We’re much less active. We’re stressed. So all of these things are part of the lifestyle.”

Dr. Bauman stressed the importance of knowing your numbers.

The following five numbers give a more-accurate picture of your health, according to the American Heart Association:

  • A1C: your average blood glucose levels for the past 2-3 months
  • BMI (Body Mass Index) and Waist Circumference: a calculation based on height and weight, and a measurement around your waist
  • Blood Pressure: the force of blood pumping through your arteries when your heart beats
  • Cholesterol: A waxy substance produced by the liver or from foods derived from animals
  • Kidney Function: Kidneys filter waste and fluid from the body (Albumin and creatinine are proteins that can pass into the urine when the kidneys are damaged.)

After knowing your numbers, following up and keeping healthy routines can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association:

  • Start a conversation with your care team to build a plan together to keep these numbers in check, keeping your heart and kidneys healthy
  • Build habits that can make a big difference, including eating smart, moving around more, and sticking to your mediation plan
  • Develop a solid network of support to help you stay motivated

“A lot of people think they’re eating healthy, but aren’t,” Dr. Bauman said. “(A food product) says it’s healthy, says it’s natural, says it’s organic, but it’s still high in sugar, high in salt, and you don’t always know all of the ingredients. I think that can make things unhealthy even when they seem healthy… Start reading labels. Decrease your sodium intake. And it’s not, by the way, from the salt shaker. That’s only about 10% of it. It’s from foods, processed foods. Avoid processed foods. Those are looking like they have some increased risk as well.”