Celebrating American Heart Month every February provides an annual opportunity to reflect on our lifestyle choices, and how these impact our cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the leading killer of both men and women in the U.S. (and increasingly, worldwide). CVD includes Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Many of the biggest risk factors for CVD-related morbidity and mortality are preventable and modifiable. Smoking, overweight/obesity, poor diet, and inactivity all contribute to increased CVD risk. Modifying these risk factors, in turn, can prevent/improve other well-known risks, including Hypertension, Diabetes, and High cholesterol.
Smoking is perhaps the biggest modifiable risk factor for CVD—don’t start! Stopping smoking will start lowering one’s cardiovascular risk within months, and within years, a former smoker’s risk is equivalent to that of a nonsmoker. It really is never too late to quit, from a cardiovascular perspective.