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    7 Steps for a Healthy Heart

    From Diet to Exercise to Cholesterol, AHA Identifies 7 Factors for Cardiovascular Health

    New Resource for Heart Health

    The AHA says its goals represent the first time it has adopted better health as a principal goal and that it has developed a new online resource, “My Life Check,” at www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck. By completing the assessment, people can determine what they need to do to achieve better cardiovascular health.

    “To date, there has been great success in reducing disability and death from heart disease and stroke, in part through aggressive improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases and in limited uptake of measures to prevent heart disease and stroke,” Clyde W. Yancy, MD, president of the American Heart Association, says in the news release. “We achieved our 2010 goal of reducing death by heart disease and stroke by 25%, earlier and by a wider margin than we had targeted.”

    Still, he says, too many people “continue to have unrelenting exposure to known important risk factors for heart disease and stroke to the point that we are likely to begin seeing an increase in these diseases, and at an earlier age.”

    That, he says, is cause for alarm and a trend that needs to be stopped.

    Longer, Healthier Lives

    David M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, lead author of the special report, says in the news release that people who take steps to improve cardiovascular health can help reduce the financial burden of the Medicare-eligible population.

    Lloyd-Jones, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, says that by reaching the masses with the new AHA message, “we could change American health for the better for decades to come.”

    That’s especially true if the message gets out to people at middle age and younger, he says.

    Genetics plays a role in cardiovascular health, but people should do all they can, says Lloyd-Jones, and the first step can be knowing and understanding measures that are important for heart health.

    “Essentially, everyone is a candidate to take at least one step forward in these metrics, from poor to intermediate or intermediate to ideal, to move a substantial portion of the population and have a real impact on cardiovascular health,” he says.

    Yancy, who is medical director of the Baylor Hearth and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, says the Life’s Simple 7 plan could have a profound impact on health and lead to longer, healthier lives.

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