Cardiologist Lei Gao, MD, PhD, Ochsner Baton Rouge, Ochsner Cardiovascular Institute, Hammond, Louisiana
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States?
As a physician, I believe the best way to treat heart disease is to prevent it. I emphasize to all of my patients the advantages of following the heart health guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) called “Life’s Simple Seven.”
AHA has for the first time defined "ideal cardiovascular health" and linked it to seven simple measures ("Life's Simple 7") that people can influence through diet and lifestyle changes to move from poor and intermediate health to ideal health.
“Ideal cardiovascular health” can be difficult to achieve because our genetic history plays an important role in several of the health factors. Each of us should strive to reach our own optimal level of heart health. These guidelines suggests simple steps we can all take to reduce our risk of developing heart disease and to try to reach as close to “ideal heart health” as we can.
The steps in “Life’s Simple Seven” include:
- increasing activity level
- stopping smoking
- eating better
- reducing blood sugar
- maintaining a healthy weight
- controlling cholesterol
- managing blood pressure
The AHA has set up a website at http://www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck to help people begin their journey in reaching their “ideal cardiovascular health.” Improvement in any of these seven areas will lead to better outcomes and can greatly impact your quality of life and life span.