February is American Heart Month and as a leading voice on improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of WNC urges everyone in western North Carolina to take steps to make sure they are heart healthy so they can lead longer, healthier lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one chronic disease related to death, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. The Y offers community-based healthy living and chronic disease prevention initiatives that support people in changing their lifestyles, encourage organizations and communities to adopt behaviors that promote healthy living and promote the public’s health through advocacy.
To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. As part of this commitment, the Y is developing a new national program that will help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure through coaching support and a proven self-monitoring practice. Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four-month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Also part of the Y’s commitment to Million Hearts is increasing the availability of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program – which is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles to help reduce their chances of developing the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke as those who do not have it.
Increased physical activity and moderate weight loss not only reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, but also have an impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. The YMCA of WNC offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals. Learn more by visiting ymcawnc.org or stopping into your local Y.